Will I have to go to court if I file for bankruptcy?
By Tracy L. Hirsch
When you file, you do have to go to court, but it’s not as scary you might assume. In fact, it’s usually quick and painless! Here’s what you can expect.
Filing for bankruptcy in Louisville, Kentucky (or any other state for that matter) can seem like a daunting task, especially when people hear that they have to go to court.
Most people are nervous at the thought of going to court because they think they’re going to go through a process that’s similar to being on trial.
The truth of the matter is, you’re not there for a criminal prosecution, and you’re not on trial. Rather, you’re there to verify that you are voluntarily participating in a legal and necessary process called bankruptcy. This court meeting is called a “341 Meeting.”
The point of the 341 Meeting isn’t to make you feel guilty for filing for bankruptcy. In fact, quite the contrary. The court meeting is held so that the trustee can make sure that you understand the process, and that everything in your bankruptcy petition is true and accurate.
Here are some facts about the ‘341’ court meetings in Louisville, KY:
1.) Bankruptcy court meetings are currently being done remotely. As of now (July 2021), court meetings are still being held over Zoom or over the phone. Before the pandemic, court meetings were held in person at the Federal Building in downtown Louisville.
As of now, and for the foreseeable future, the meetings won’t be done in person. The upside to that is that you don’t have to spend time in the car to and from the courthouse, spend money on parking, and so on. Also, it means less time away from work.
In regards to getting to the meeting, all you have to do is call in if you have a phone meeting or click on a Zoom link if you have a video meeting, and that’s it! It is also important to have your photo ID and social security card on hand at the time of your meeting.
Remember: Your court date is set up to help you, not harm you.
2.) As your attorney, I will go to the meeting with you. When meetings were held in the court house, I would meet my clients there in person. Now, I call in to your meeting or log into Zoom so that I am there with you, even though it’s not face to face.
That way, if you have a question or need clarification on something that the trustee is asking you, I’ll be there to help you.
3.) The meetings are usually completed in a matter of minutes. While there is sometimes a wait in regards to speaking to the trustee, when it’s time for your turn, the entire meeting itself is usually only 5 to 10 minutes. Many people think that they’ll be in Court for the entire day, but that’s not true.
I always tell my clients that when they wait for their name to be called and then have the meeting, the longest total amount of time for all of that is usually not longer than 30 minutes.
4.) These meetings are mandatory. Whether you file a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13, coming to your court meeting isn’t optional, and the date of the meeting cannot be changed. The trustee has many debtors on the docket, and they are scheduled together so that the meetings can be done as quickly and efficiently as possible.
If you don’t show up, your case cannot be completed and will get dismissed. If your case gets dismissed, you will no longer have protection from your creditors, so it’s important to make the court meeting a priority!
Now that you know the basics about when, where, and why these meetings take place, you may be wondering how it’s done. If you’re thinking, “What specifically happens at the meeting when the trustee calls my name?”, that’s a great question (and a very common one).
When the trustee calls your name, that means that they are ready to start your meeting and ask you questions about your bankruptcy petition.
Again, the trustee isn’t trying to trick you or put you on the spot – they just need to verify that you have listed all of your debts, assets, and creditors in an honest and accurate manner.
They also need to make sure that you haven’t omitted any pertinent information that could negatively and unfairly affect your bankruptcy and/or your creditors.
During your 341 Meeting, the trustee will ask questions like these:
- What is your name and address? (They will also ask you to show your photo ID if you’re doing a Zoom video meeting.)
- Before you filed for bankruptcy, did you review the bankruptcy petition with your attorney?
- To the best of your knowledge, is everything that’s listed in your bankruptcy petition true and accurate?
- Have you ever filed for bankruptcy in the past?
- Did you list all of the debts that you currently have?
- Did you list all of your assets, including real estate/property, homes, cars, and so on?
The trustee will usually ask a few additional questions relating to specific aspects of your bankruptcy case, especially is you’ve filed a previous bankruptcy case. Once you’ve answered all of their questions, the trustee will let you know that the meeting is officially over, and that you can hang up the phone or exit the Zoom meeting.
Even though filing for bankruptcy requires multiple steps (gathering documents, doing two credit counseling courses, filing, and going to court), your attorney can walk you through each step to ensure that you’ve completed all of the necessary requirements.
If you’re currently considering bankruptcy, but feel overwhelmed by the process, I can answer your questions to put your mind at ease. With 21 years of experience, I have helped thousands of clients obtain the fresh start that they need, and I’m here to help you too!
You can call or text me on my cell phone at (502) 435-2593 to set up a free consultation. There’s no obligation to file, and I can work around your schedule. If you’ve been struggling with debt for months or even years, now’s the time to learn about your options.
Please visit my homepage at www.hirschbklaw.com, where you’ll learn more facts about bankruptcy, as well as information about my law firm. I hope to hear from you soon!
All the best,
Tracy L. Hirsch
Louisville Bankruptcy Attorney
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