Should I Be Scared of the Meeting of Creditors?

06 Mar Should I Be Scared of the Meeting of Creditors?

In the overwhelming majority of cases, the Meeting of Creditors (also called the “341 Meeting,” because it is authorized by Section 341 of the Bankruptcy Code) is about 5 minutes long, no creditors appear, and the Meeting consists of Trustee going through a series of standard questions. Why, then, do most of my clients hear the words “Meeting of Creditors” and get a mental image of being seated in a straight-backed chair in a large, darkened room, with a spotlight in their face, and their creditors in hooded robes chanting around them?

The answer, I think, lies solely in the name. “Meeting of Creditors” suggests that creditors have something to do with the meeting. However, unless you are involved in a business bankruptcy or a domestic dispute, the odds are that creditors have nothing to ask you at the Meeting, and don’t want to pay someone to attend. In a Chapter 13 case, they get paid through the Chapter 13 Plan, and in a Chapter 7 case, there rarely is any basis for objecting to your discharge, so they don’t appear.

If the Meeting were named the “Trustee’s Meeting,” a more accurate description of what normally occurs, people wouldn’t be quite so afraid of what might happen.

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Brett Weiss, a senior partner at The Weiss Law Group, 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 colleague, Daniel Press, 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 previous 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 and the Bankruptcy Bar Association of Maryland. He has 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.
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