Meeting of Creditors (Chapter 13)

What is the Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Meeting of Creditors?

A frequently-asked frequently-asked-question presented to the San Diego Bankruptcy Attorney is,

“Must I go to court?”

Though Chapter 13 Bankruptcy papers are docketed with the Southern District (San Diego) Courthouse, our typical-bankruptcy client seldom sees the courtroom; if she does, an appearance mainly means simply sitting in the pew to view Yours Truly vigorously, but patiently present the merits of the chapter 13 matter. It’s rare that client testimony is called for, hence Fear Not!  However, every chapter 13 bankruptcy filer must attend the Meeting of Creditors, which we’ll delve into below.

San Diego bankruptcy attorney discusses the chapter 13 bankruptcy meeting of creditors.
The Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Meeting of Creditors: It Ain’t Nothing to Scream About.

The Meeting of Creditors [also called a “341(a)” after the governing bankruptcy code section–and the “a” is often omitted to achieve optimal brevity] takes place 20- to 50-days post-filing of the chapter 13 bankruptcy petition.

Though it’s formal (your bankruptcy lawyer must don his lawyer costume– mask and cowl suit and tie, but you’re cool business-casual), its venue is the U.S Trustee’s office downtown, which is not a court of bankruptcy law. Hence, no judge, bailiff or reporter are present. Your San Diego Bankruptcy Attorney is there, however, so no worries, okay?

The meeting of creditors boils down to a brief interview with a chapter 13 bankruptcy trustee (creditors themselves very-seldom show… go figure). The trustee is charged with case administration and disbursement of chapter 13 plan payments to the eponymous parties of the meeting.

Generally the meeting finishes in a few minutes. The chapter 13 bankruptcy trustee has you swear under oath that the information in the bankruptcy paperwork filed is accurate, complete and most excellent. Routine inquiries are made into income rate and specific financial affairs. Romantic affairs and liaisons are generally not touched upon in the course of bankruptcy proceedings. The bankruptcy creditors-meeting doesn’t merit sweat (or nervous foot tapping). You’ll be fully prepared to answer all questions and your bankruptcy attorney will field all legal matters.

The point of the powwow is to satisfy Bankruptcy Code requirements: to attest to the correctness of- and to supplement-previously-provided-information. Its overarching purpose is to permit the chapter 13 trustee and your San Diego bankruptcy lawyer to communicate any issues that merit dispute.

Generally, conflict amounts to settlement of the bankruptcy client’s payment commitment. Since we promote lower payment, and the chapter 13 bankruptcy trustee advocates higher payout, negotiation and fine-tuning is par for the course. However, heated arguments are mainly deferred and made in the comfort of attorney offices– not at the meeting. The chapter 13 bankruptcy meeting is a formality; though our positions may be succinctly clarified, there aren’t histrionics or debates; yours truly doesn’t stoop to grandstanding.

In other words, it’s all very dull. Which–in the bankruptcy client’s best interest–is how it should be.

Then what? After the chapter 13 bankruptcy creditors-meeting wraps, your San Diego bankruptcy attorney is tasked with confirming your chapter 13 payment plan. Confirmation is the cementing of the plan payment by way of bankruptcy court order. The chapter 13 bankruptcy plan may be ready for confirmation upon conclusion of the 341. Or–in order to obtain optimal results–we must still seek (or compel) trustee and creditor agreement precedent to confirmation.

Though a crowded bankruptcy court docket may protract the process o’er many moons, this is simply the nature of the bankruptcy beast. The bankruptcy client need not fret in the interim; you need only maintain your monthly chapter 13 payments, while your San Diego bankruptcy attorney pushes for plan confirmation. So, on second thought, bankruptcy isn’t a beast. It’s not quite cute and furry… but, it’s at least as decent as a homely mutt who chews your shoe, but with whom you ultimately put up with.

After all, with chapter 13 bankruptcy you can be freed from tens-of-thousands to hundreds-of-thousands of dollars of debt, for payment of pennies on the dollar. Not too shabby.

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