Bankruptcy Basics: What Happens Once I File?

by Brett Weiss, Esq.

February 13, 2007

What Happens Once I File?

Once the case is filed, the Court issues an Automatic Stay. This stops all legal proceedings against you. Foreclosures, repossessions and garnishments are halted, creditors cannot call or write you, and lawsuits against you can not be filed or pursued if they are pending.

The Meeting of Creditors, or 341 Meeting, is usually scheduled 3-6 weeks after your case is filed. Not to worry – it sounds much worse than it is. A better name for this hearing would be the “Trustee’s Meeting,” since creditors very rarely appear. Most 341’s last 3-5 minutes, and consist of the Trustee verifying you are who you say you are, asking a series of standard questions, and going into detail about anything unusual that appears on your Schedules.

In a Chapter 7, once the Meeting of Creditors has been held, nothing usually happens until the discharge is entered and your case is closed about 3 months later.

In a Chapter 13 case, a second hearing, the Confirmation Hearing, is held two to three months after the case is filed. The purpose of this hearing is for the Court to approve the Chapter 13 Plan. In many cases, it is not necessary for you to attend this hearing; your lawyer makes all the arrangements with the Chapter 13 Trustee.

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Brett Weiss, a senior partner at Chung & Press, LLC, represents people and businesses in all phases of bankruptcy. He has experience in complex individual Chapter 7, Chapter 11 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases, and in Chapter 11 small business restructuring and reorganization. Mr. Weiss lectures nationally on bankruptcy issues. He has testified before the Federal Bankruptcy Rules Committee, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and has twice testified before Congress on bankruptcy and credit issues. Brett Weiss is the co-author of Chapter 11 for Individual Debtors, and has written Not Dead Yet: Bankruptcy After BAPCPA, for the Maryland Bar Journal, as well as hundreds of blogs for the Bankruptcy Law Network. With his law partner, he recorded a 13-hour basic bankruptcy training series, and leads intensive three-day Chapter 11 training boot camps. Mr. Weiss has received international media attention in connection with his work. He was interviewed by Barbara Walters on The View, has appeared on the Today Show, Good Morning America, ABC News with Peter Jennings, the Montel Williams Show, National Public Radio, AARP-TV, the BBC World Service, German state television, and numerous local radio and television programs, and been quoted in Money magazine, The Washington Post and The Baltimore Sun, among others. Brett Weiss is the Maryland State Chair for the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, a founding member of the Bankruptcy Law Network, on the board of the Maryland State Bar Consumer Bankruptcy Council, and a member of the American Bankruptcy Institute, the Bankruptcy Bar Association of Maryland, and the Civil Justice Network. He has been recognized as a “Super Lawyer” every year since 2007 for Maryland and the District of Columbia, and in 2011 received the Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys for his work on behalf of consumers across the country. Mr. Weiss is admitted to practice before Maryland and District of Columbia federal and state courts, the United States Courts of Appeals for the DC, Fourth and Eighth Circuits, The United States Tax Court, and the Supreme Court of the United States, and has been practicing law since 1983.

Last modified: April 11, 2012