Does Someone Actually See A Judge In Any Of These Cases Or Is It Just The Trustee And Possibly A Creditor?
In a 341 Meeting of Creditors, there is no judge. It is called a Meeting of Creditors, but basically it is a hearing. When someone enters the hearing room, there will be 10 or 11 other people on the same one hour calendar that they are on. If they are on the 8:00 calendar it normally runs from 8:00 to 9:00. The 9:00 calendar is from 9:00 to 10:00 and so on.
The debtor will go into the hearing room with the trustee seated up at the front of the room. There will be a couple of tables in front with a microphone and chairs for the attorney and the creditors and the debtors to sit at. The trustee will make an opening statement about procedure and that they are testifying under penalty of perjury and things of that nature.
Then the trustee will call each debtor up one at a time, so if it is a husband and wife, then they go up at the same time. They sit down at the table with me normally to their right or left. Next, they are sworn in under oath. Their identifications are then verified by driver’s licenses and social security cards. The Trustee will ask them all the basic questions. Then the trustee will ask if any creditors are there and normally there are no creditors appearing and then the Trustee concludes the meeting and that is it.
The only time the judge ever gets involved is if there is an issue that has to go in front of the judge for a judicial decision to be rendered on. In Chapter 7 cases that rarely happens. In Chapter 13 cases, it happens more often because you are dealing with a reorganization plan. So sometimes there are things that the judge has to decide because the parties cannot agree.
Generally speaking, the 341 meeting of creditors is the only hearing the most debtors have to go to.
Although Creditors Do Not Usually Show Up, Why Would A Creditor Ever Show Up?
In a Chapter 7 hearing, a creditor would show up if they believed that there was a possibility that there were assets that the debtor had that the debtor could not claim as exempt and would, therefore, be liquidated.
The creditors used to send representatives when they had a credit card at Sears and the debtor had bought a washing machine or a refrigerator and the creditor tried to assert that it was a secured claim. They would want to get the debtor on record saying “you bought this, you own it and you still have it. Therefore, we are entitled to be paid for that particular item.”
Those are the main reasons why creditors usually show up in Chapter 7 cases. As already mentioned, for the most part creditors only appear when they are asset cases where some assets are going to be liquidated and creditors are going to be paid.
In the typical no asset case where the debtors have exempted all of their property, there will generally be no creditors that appear.
To get answers to more questions regarding the 341 Meeting of Creditors, call the law firm of Steven F. Bliss at (858) 278-2800 or (951) 223-7000 now for a FREE Initial Consultation and get the information and legal answers you are seeking.