341(a) Meeting of Creditors
Both chapter 7 and chapter 13 (and chapter 11 cases) have a mandatory 341(a) Meeting of Creditors which is administered by the Bankruptcy Trustee. This hearing is typically 30 days after the filing of your case. This is not a court meeting before a Judge, but rather an informal hearing held outside of the courtroom, typically in an office building designated by the Trustee.
For this meeting, the Trustee requires you to bring with you your driver’s license and social security card to verify your identity. If you do not have these with you, the Trustee will likely not meet with you. If you do not have these, the Trustee will still meet with you if you have acceptable alternatives to the proof of identity – for example, you may show a valid passport instead of your driver’s license and an original W-2 or State Medicare card which states your social security number instead of your Social Security card.
The Meeting itself takes just a few minutes, depending on your case. It is the Trustee’s opportunity to review your petition, make sure it is really you who provided the information and signed the petition under penalty of perjury and to determine whether there are any assets to be liquidated (in a chapter 7) or whether the plan you propose to reorganize your estate is feasible as to all creditors (in a chapter 13).Confirmation Hearing
In a chapter 13 (and also in chapter 11 cases), the Court schedules a confirmation hearing. Depending on which Judge you get assigned to, this confirmation hearing may be a month or even sometimes a year after the 341(a) hearing. This is a separate meeting where your repayment plan becomes concrete and no longer just a proposed repayment plan.
It is important to note that until the case is confirmed, any parties involved may object to the plans terms as not being feasible. If such objections are filed by the Trustee or the creditors, then our office will work with the objecting party to resolve the objections to render your case feasible and ultimately confirmed.
In many cases, you will not have to personally attend this hearing if you have a lawyer. They will be able to represent you at the hearing and argue the terms and conditions on your behalf. If your plan is approved, the Judge will sign what is known as the Order Confirming Plan. A confirmation hearing has the potential to be very complicated and arduous, however, given the proper preparations, your case has the potential to be approved “on consent” by the Trustee, at which point no appearance may be required by the Trustee.
Given all the terms and requirements of a chapter 13, it is highly recommended that you work with an experienced bankruptcy attorney in preparing a chapter 13 plan so you have a good chance of getting your case confirmed timely.