341 Hearing Lawyer in Vancouver, WA
Filing for bankruptcy can give you an opportunity for a fresh start – a chance for a new beginning and rebuilding your finances. But before that happens, you need a reliable attorney who understands your situation and knows how to help you during the entire process. What’s the first thing to expect after you filed for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy? A 341 Hearing or Meeting of Creditors.
341 Hearing can be scary especially if it’s just your first time filing for bankruptcy. Assistance from a reliable and experienced bankruptcy lawyer will make a big difference. Robert Russell Law Office in Clark County, Vancouver Washington has successfully helped thousands of clients get debt relief. You can count on our attorneys to walk you through the bankruptcy process as they have more than 30 years of experience handling bankruptcy cases.
Don’t look any further, we are certainly what you are looking for to start the process right!
Why do I need a 341 Hearing Lawyer in Washington?
You want to be 100% prepared before a meeting for creditors. After all, this nerve-racking process is the first step to achieving a debt-free life. But you worry that you do not know the process. You want to know what are your rights and options. You want to know what to expect to better prepare yourself and be free from all those fears and anxieties.
Our skillful and trusted Vancouver lawyers at Robert Russell Law Office will help you understand the process and go through it smoothly. They’ll give you an overview of what actually takes place during a 341 meeting and how you can prepare. You can rest assured that you are not going through the process alone. Share and consult with us about your worries and let us help you get a new debt-free beginning!
What is a 341 Hearing?
According to the Western District of Washington Bankruptcy Court, “Section 341 of the Bankruptcy Code requires that every debtor personally attend a meeting of creditors (sometimes also called “341 hearing” or “creditors meeting”) and answer questions under oath.” The 341 hearing will be scheduled by the Western District of Washington Court within 21 to 60 days after filing the petition.
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is usually known as the “fresh start” type of bankruptcy. The process is cheap and quick, usually around 4 to 6 months to complete after filing. Chapter 7 will work well for you if you only have the essential properties you need to live and work. You can claim an exemption for these essential properties. Non-exempt properties will be sold and proceeds will be distributed to creditors. After selling your non-exempt properties, you will be discharged and gets free from debt.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy requires bankruptcy petitioners to pay their creditors either part or all of their debts. Debtors usually offer a 3-5 years repayment plan to creditors. In Chapter 13, you can keep your properties. They won’t get liquidated or sold as long as you can keep the promise of paying your creditors as agreed in the repayment plan.
Chapter 13 is more of a reorganization of assets and properties while Chapter 7 is outright liquidation except for exempt properties. All debtors are required to attend a 341 hearing both in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
What Happens during 341 Meeting?
The meeting of creditors or 341 hearing allows the appointed bankruptcy trustee, the person assigned to look over your case, to verify if all information you have provided in your bankruptcy paperwork is true and accurate. Generally, this is what happens during a 341 meeting.
- The court will notify you of the meeting of creditors, usually 21 to 60 days after filing the petition. 341 hearing notice includes the date, time, and place of the meeting.
- There will be multiple 341 hearings schedules. Make sure to arrive on time. You will likely be in a meeting room with other debtors so if you are early, you can observe how meetings of creditors are done while waiting for your turn.
- Once called, the bankruptcy trustee will verify your identification. Make sure to bring with you at least 2 forms of identification. This process helps avoid bankruptcy fraud
- You will be put under oath by the trustee
- Trustee will proceed in verifying all the information in your bankruptcy paperwork
- If additional related documents were asked beforehand, the trustee will ask for the documents
- The trustee and your creditors, if they decided to attend, will ask a series of questions about your financial situation
- Discussion of proposed repayment plan (Chapter 13 bankruptcy only)
341 hearing is not actually a hearing. It’s commonly held in a meeting room, not a courtroom and takes less than 10 minutes to finish. It’s always facilitated by your bankruptcy trustee, not a court judge.
The whole process can be overwhelming and scary, but worry not! With our experienced and caring attorney, you can breathe and relax knowing that you are in good hands and your best interest is always the top priority.
How to prepare for 341 Hearing?
Before appearing at the hearing, meet with a 341 hearing lawyer in Washington to seek legal advice and reconfirm your bankruptcy documents’ accuracy. Were there any financial changes that occurred after filing? Is there information that you need to correct or update? Remember that any changes or incorrect information about your financial status may affect the course of the case.
What to bring?
Western District of Washington Bankruptcy Court provides a list of what to bring during the meeting and it includes the following:
- Proof of identification – Picture ID and Proof of Social Security number
- Accepted forms of identification include the following:
- driver’s license
- government ID
- state picture ID
- student ID
- U.S. Passport
- military ID
- resident alien card
- consulate card
- Accepted proof of social security number includes:
- social security card
- medical insurance card
- pay stub
- W-2 form
- Internal Revenue Service Form 1099
- Social Security Administration report
- Bankruptcy case number
Where is the meeting?
341 hearing occurs in the county where the debtor lives or where the principal place of the business or property where the bankruptcy petition is filed. The court sends the meeting details including location, date, and time to the debtor and all creditors.
What questions to expect at the Creditors’ Meeting?
Knowing what possible questions will be asked will definitely help you get a favorable outcome. Your lawyer will be with you during the meeting but they will not be able to answer on your behalf. But our extremely thorough and meticulous 341 hearing attorney, will guide you to do advance preparations on how to carefully answer the trustee/creditors which can be terrifying at times. Below is a list of some of the common questions including sample questions provided by the US Department of Justice.
- Did you review thoroughly your bankruptcy document?
- Are all information in your paperwork accurate?
- Did you list all your assets and properties?
- How about all your obligations?
- Do you have a claim against anyone or any business?
- Are you the plaintiff in any lawsuit? What is the status of each case and who is representing you?
- Is this your first time filing for bankruptcy?
- Are there any financial changes that occur after you filed your bankruptcy petition?
- Do you have child support or alimony obligation?
- Have you filed all your tax returns?
- Did you make any transfers of properties before filing for bankruptcy?
- Have you given any property away within the last 12 months? If yes, which asset or property did you transfer?
- Did you incur new charges on your credit cards in the last 12 months?
- How did you arrive at the total value of your assets?
- Are you in a partnership?
- Do you own a business?
- Do you have cars? Are they insured?
- Do you have or own any interest in real estate?
- Does anyone hold an asset that belongs to you? If yes, who holds the property? What is it and what is its value?
- Are you a beneficiary, trustee, or trustor of a trust?
Do you have to appear?
Certainly a yes! Failure to appear or failure to provide necessary information can lead to case dismissal, court order for cooperation, or worst, you will be held in contempt of court for willful failure to cooperate. Now, you don’t want that to happen, right? But some things can occur beyond your control. What if you can’t attend the meeting because of important unprecedented circumstances? What if additional related documents needed are not available at that time? Will you just let the opportunity to be debt-free pass?
These circumstances are the exact reasons why you need a competent lawyer who knows what is going to happen in the entire process including all your rights and options. So, what are you waiting for? Get that phone and let the most capable 341 hearing attorney in Vancouver help you!
What Happens After the 341 Hearing?
The bankruptcy trustee will conclude the hearing if there are no other questions left. If the trustee determined that all information is sufficient and no further documentation or hearing is required, you could just wait for the discharge decision of your petition.
If the trustee asked for supplementary documents and wanted to give additional time for creditors to examine you and your financial situation, another hearing date might be set. But if an additional hearing is no longer required, just submit all the necessary additional paperwork timely and wait for your debt discharge.