When Will I Go to Court?
Approximately 30 days after your case is filed, you will appear at the federal courthouse for your first meeting of creditors which is also called a 341 meeting. At this meeting, you will meet the person who was appointed to serve as your trustee. The trustee is a lawyer, not a judge. The trustee's job is to review your case and determine whether there are any assets that can be sold to pay your unsecured creditors. An experienced bankruptcy lawyer will be able to tell you if you have any property that is at risk in your bankruptcy case.
There is No Need to be Afraid.
Everyone is scared to death over the thought of going to the 341 meeting. Everyone imagines that they will be embarrassed, that everyone will be staring at them, that it will be a horrible experience where their creditors will treat them like deadbeats. Don't let your imagination get the best of you.
Who comes to the Meeting of Creditors?
In reality, the 341 meeting is a very informal meeting where few, if any, creditors appear. Everyone present will be either a fellow debtor, a bankruptcy attorney representing a debtor, or a bankruptcy lawyer representing a creditor. All of your fellow debtors are as terrified as you are and no one is paying any attention to you (with the exception of your own lawyer). No one is going to intentionally embarrass you or harass you.
How Long Does a 341 Meeting Last?
You may be at the meeting for an hour or more depending on the number of other people with cases that day and the order in which your case will be called. In the Northern District of Alabama, I can assure you that the total time you will stand before the trustee to answer questions will be measured in minutes. The average time you are asked questions if probably 2 to 3 minutes. Your stomach and nerves will not have time to settle before you were being told “thank you and you are free to leave.” So, relax, take a deep breath, and remember to just tell the truth.