March 2011

WHAT IS A 341 MEETING?

Last month I wrote an article telling you a little about the bankruptcy trustee (click here to see the article).  I mentioned something called a 341 meeting and many of you wanted me to explain more about it.

A 341 meeting, also called a First Meeting of Creditors, must be held in every bankruptcy case.  The Bankruptcy Clerk of Court will usually schedule a 341 meeting for a chapter 7 bankruptcy about 30 days after the bankruptcy petition is filed.   For chapter 13 cases, a 341 meeting will be scheduled for the third Wednesday of the month after the chapter 13 bankruptcy petition is filed unless there is some sort of weird holiday issue. Remember, a chapter 13 bankruptcy is a payment plan to pay back some or all of the debt while a chapter 7 bankruptcy requires no payment and the debt is completely discharged.

Almost all of my clients are nervous when they show up for their 341 meeting.  No matter what I say here I will not be able to convince anyone that there is no reason to be nervous.

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CAN I FILE FOR BANKRUPTCY WITHOUT MY SPOUSE?

The short answer to this question is yes. One important thing to remember here is that debt will only be discharged in bankruptcy with respect to the individual who filed bankruptcy! In other words, if one spouse does not wish to file but has joint credit card debt with the filing spouse, the credit card company can and will pursue collecting the debt from the non-filing spouse.

Disclaimer: If you are currently engaged or considering getting married but are also considering bankruptcy, please seek legal advice  about bankruptcy qualifications prior to jumping on a plane, flying to Las Vegas, and having Elvis perform a marriage ceremony for you.

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WHAT I NEED TO BRING TO EVERY BANKRUPTCY APPOINTMENT:

Because the bankruptcy court uses the last 6 months of income and information, we always need the most current:

  • Paystubs
  • Bank statements
  • Retirement account statements (401K, Pension, IRA, ETC.)
  • Stock values
  • Credit counseling certificate (please note it is valid for only 6 months)
  • Copies of any judgments, liens, foreclosures, etc. for the last 2 years
  • If you are in a Chapter 7 we need the last two years of tax returns (federal and state); if you are in a Chapter 13 we need the last 4 years of tax returns (federal and state)

INFORMATION I WILL NEED TO PROVIDE TO MY ATTORNEY:

  • If you have been divorced in the last 8 years we need a copy of the divorce decree
  • If you have transferred any property out of your name into someone else’s name (including trade-ins) in the last two years we need to know the date of the transfer, the person or entity it was transferred to, and the description and value of the property that was transferred
  • If you have closed any financial accounts in the last year (checking, savings, etc.) we need to know the date it was closed, the type of account it was, the entity it was through, and the value of the account at the time of closing
  • We need to know your address for the last three years and the dates lived at each address
  • If you are having a credit report pulled, please note that things like medical bills do not always show up on credit reports, unless they have already been turned over to a third party collection agency & Marks Law Firm will not be included in the bankruptcy unless we are provided with something showing the bill is owed.

*Please note the more information and thoroughly prepared you are when you come into the office the quicker and easier we can get your bankruptcy petition built and prepared to file.

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