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What you need to know about the meeting of creditors

Before the judge will discharge your debts in bankruptcy, you will have to attend a 341 meeting. The U.S. Bankruptcy Code Section 341 describes the process for this meeting.

Here is what you should expect:

Who will attend

This meeting is primarily between you and your bankruptcy trustee. If you and your spouse are filing bankruptcy jointly, both of you must attend the meeting. If you do not go to the meeting, the trustee may request that the judge dismiss your case. 

The judge will not be present at the meeting. Your creditors may be there, and they may bring their attorneys if they wish. However, they do not have to attend, and they do not waive any of their rights by forgoing the meeting. 

What you need to bring

You will need a government-issued photo ID such as your driver's license, as well as proof of your Social Security number. You should bring all of your bankruptcy paperwork with you, including the petition and schedules. Your trustee may also require you to bring tax returns, bank statements, secured loan paperwork such as mortgage documents or car loan statements, vehicle registration and proof of insurance, property valuations and pay stubs. 

What will happen

The trustee will review your bankruptcy petition and your schedules. He or she must make sure that you understand how the bankruptcy will affect your credit history and other consequences. The trustee will also determine whether you qualify to file for a different chapter of bankruptcy and whether that would be more appropriate for you. If you seek to reaffirm any of your debts, the trustee will discuss the effects of doing so to make sure that you understand the potential outcomes.

When the trustee asks you questions about your income, debts or other aspects of your case, you must give all your answers under oath, as you would in a courtroom before a judge. People who lie during the meeting are guilty of perjury. If any creditors ask you questions, you must also answer these honestly. Know that most 341 meetings last only about 10 minutes.

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