Minnesota Bankruptcy Attorneys You Can Trust
For many, any day that they have to go to a courthouse is a bad day. It can be incredibly nerve-wracking to stand in a courtroom, in front of a judge, and under oath even if you have done nothing wrong and are there for a civil matter. As such, you may be drowning in debt and putting off filing the bankruptcy case that could get your life back on track because you simply don’t want to deal with court appearances.
The good news is that if you file bankruptcy, you will only have to go to the courthouse once in order to make a legal appearance at a 341(a) Meeting of Creditors. This meeting of creditors, at least in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, doesn’t even happen in a courtroom and isn’t with a judge. It happens in a smaller meeting room, and you meet with the bankruptcy trustee. The trustee is a court-appointed lawyer, not a judge, who oversees the case to make sure things are fair. The trustee also sells any property that is not protected in bankruptcy.
What is a 341(a) Meeting of Creditors?
Around 30 days after your bankruptcy case is filed, you will be called to your 341(a) meeting. The location of this meeting depends on the county you live in. For Hennepin, Anoka, and most of the counties surrounding Minneapolis, you will be meeting in the Minneapolis courthouse. However, other counties may have a set professional civil meeting location due to the absence of a reasonably near courthouse.
At a 341(a) meeting, you will meet with the bankruptcy trustee assigned automatically to your case. These trustees will usually be attorneys or CPAs. Their responsibilities differ depending on whether you are filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, they will place your non-exempt assets in a trust and begin to sell them off in order to settle your debts after they have been discharged from you. In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, they will look over your financials and help your structure a repayment plan.
While you may be meeting them in a courthouse, you will only be meeting with this trustee. There is no judge involved and you will be in a smaller multi-purpose meeting room — not a courtroom.
The trustee will, however, require you to swear an oath to tell the truth under penalty of perjury. As such, you will want to tell the truth throughout the entire proceedings. Your trustee is completely unbiased, trying only to get what is fair for both parties. As such, there is no benefit to trying to deceive them. If you are found to be lying at any point, the best case is that your bankruptcy case is dropped, leaving you with the resumed debt. The worst case is you are tried for perjury.
What to Bring to Your 341(a) Meeting?
When your 341(a) meeting is scheduled, your bankruptcy lawyer will make sure you are well informed of what will happen as well as what you need to bring. While you may think you have to gather ten tons of financial records, at this meeting you only need to bring a valid photo ID and proof of your Social Security number.
What Happens at a 341(a) Meeting?
The 341(a) meeting sounds like it will be longer than it actually is. It will actually be a 3-to-5 minute meeting where the trustee asks you a series of yes or no questions. Example questions include:
- Have you listed all your assets and debts?
- Do you have any child or spousal support obligations?
- Have you ever used another Social Security number?
- Is the address on your bankruptcy paperwork correct?
- Were there any omissions or errors on your bankruptcy paperwork?
You will have the opportunity to ask the trustee questions after they are done, but with luck your lawyer will have already answered them. After this meeting, you should receive your official discharge within 60 days.
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Do you need to file bankruptcy but feel a little intimidated by the process? We can help. Contact us today to see what Walker & Walker can do to help you feel more comfortable with what can be a necessary process for so many.