Chicago Bankruptcy Question: What is a Chapter 7 Meeting of Creditors?

Chicago Bankruptcy Question of the Day: What is a Chapter 7 Meeting of Creditors?  One of the requirements to completing your Chapter 7 bankruptcy is attendance at a Meeting of Creditors required by Section 341 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.  In the Chicago area, the location of the Chapter 7 Meeting of Creditors is determined by which county you live in.  A full list of the meeting locations can be found on the U.S. Department of Justice website under the U.S. Trustee program link (Chicago is covered by Region 11).  

When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the Chicago area, the clerk of the court will assign a trustee to your case and a date and time for your Section 341 Meeting of Creditors.  The meeting date is generally set thirty to forty-five days after the date of case filing, depending on the volume of cases filed with the court and the availability of the trustees.  Notice of this meeting is sent to all interested parties in your Chapter 7 bankruptcy and all are invited to attend.  In the vast majority of cases, only you, your attorney and the assigned trustee will be there.  This is not a court hearing; actually the court is specifically excluded from participating in this meeting, so there is no need to wear a suit or be overly nervous about the process.

The meeting is conducted by the Chapter 7 trustee assigned to your case.  Prior to the meeting, the trustee should have received a set of required documents including but not limited to, pay advices and recent tax returns, from your attorney.  They also should have had an opportunity to review your bankruptcy petition and schedules and have a good idea as to what your situation is.  

You must bring your state issued driver's license or identification card and your original social security card to the meeting and tender them to the trustee so that he or she may verify your identity.  The trustee will then swear you in and put you on the record, which is a digital recorder on the desk that keeps a record of the meeting.  The trustee will proceed to ask you a series of questions in order to verify that the information provided in your petition and schedules is complete an accurate and that you have no non-exempt assets that could be sold to pay your debts.  So long as the trustee is satisfied with the answers and does not believe there is any such property, the meeting will be concluded, a "no-asset" report will be issued and your Chapter 7 Meeting of Creditors is concluded.

On occasion, a creditor may appear at the meeting with the intent of asking you some questions.  This is their right and one of the purposes of this meeting, but it is rare.  Also on occasion, an attorney from the U.S. Trustee's office may appear and have some questions.  This is their right as well, but is equally rare.  Cooperation with the creditors and U.S. Trustee is required within limits, so having an experienced bankruptcy attorney by your side is essential should they appear. 

One of the most important aspects of the Chapter 7 bankruptcy meeting of creditors under Section 341 is having a bankruptcy attorney representing you who you trust to be looking out for your best interests.  While it may seem simple and straightforward, and it often is, the meeting of creditors can create significant problems in your Chapter 7 bankruptcy if not handled properly.  The Chicago bankruptcy attorneys at Ledford & Wu have the skill, experience and expertise to represent you well throughout the Chapter 7 process.  Call us today for a free consultation.

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