Anyone in New York who files a petition under Chapter 7 of the United States Bankruptcy Code must attend a meeting with creditors and the trustee early in the proceeding. The meeting is required by Section 341 of the Bankruptcy Code, and it is commonly referred to as the "341 meeting."
The 341 meeting must be held within a reasonable time after Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition is filed. The court will set the time and place of the meeting, but the judge is prohibited from attending the meeting. The debtor is required to attend the meeting, as is the trustee. Creditors are also notified of the time and place of the meeting, but their attendance is optional. Creditors are not required to be represented by lawyers.
The trustee is required to examine the debtor under oath to ensure awareness of the potential consequences of seeking a bankruptcy discharge, including the effect on credit history, the limitations on the debtor's right to file a petition on a different section of the code, the effect of receiving a discharge of debts and the effect of reaffirming a debt. Creditors may examine the debtor about the debtor's financial affairs, and the debtor must answer under oath. The debtor must provide whatever financial records are demanded by the trustee, and those records are usually provided before the meeting takes place.
The 341 meeting may last only a few minutes for a simple consumer bankruptcy. However, a 341 meeting involving significant assets and many debts may extend for several hours. For such a bankruptcy, it is very important to organize the necessary documents, and for the debtor to prepare to answer questions from the trustee and the creditors who attend. This can ensure the meeting is conducted properly.
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