Given the recent harsh economic times, many Georgia residents are finding it harder and harder to pay their bills and manage their debts. When financial responsibilities become too great of a burden, many Georgians turn to our office and ask for assistance in reducing their debt and repairing their credit. If you think you are carrying more debt than you can reasonably handle, filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy may be a good option to help alleviate your bills.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows a debtor to keep his/her property but requires the person to pay at least some of the existing debts over three or five years in accordance with a court approved payment plan. The Chapter 13 bankruptcy process can be complicated, which is why working with an experienced attorney can really make a difference.
For example, one of the parts of the Chapter 13 process is called the 341 meeting. At this meeting, the bankruptcy trustee (who is the person appointed by the bankruptcy court to oversee the process) will speak to the debtor’s creditors. The 341 meeting allows the debtor, the debtor’s creditors, and the trustee to discuss how the Chapter 13 payment plan will work and how the debtor will be able to make the payments outlined in the plan.
In order for this meeting to run as smoothly and efficiently as possible, before the meeting the trustee will examine all of the paperwork filed by the debtor (or the debtor’s attorney) which includes the bankruptcy petition and schedules that explain the debtor’s assets, the documents outlining the debtor’s bills, and explanations of the debtor’s income and expenses. After this examination, the 341 meeting will be set. The trustee will schedule the meeting normally around 4-6 weeks after the filing – so the debtor will have some time to retain an attorney for the meeting if he/she has not already done so.
The meeting will not take place in a courtroom and a judge will not be present, but it is still very important that the debtor take the meeting seriously. During the meeting, the trustee will ask the debtor several questions such as whether anything has changed in the debtor’s financial situation since the bankruptcy petition was filed, and will likely ask that the debtor affirm that the previously provided information is still accurate. It is of the utmost importance that the debtor answers the questions honestly.
After the trustee finishes asking questions, any creditors present at the meeting also have the opportunity to question the debtor about the proposed payment plan. However, it is not common that creditors make the trip out to the 341 meeting since attendance is not required for them (but please note attendance is required for the debtors)
If you are a Georgia resident and you are thinking about or have already filed Chapter 13 bankruptcy, contact our office today so a skilled attorney can help prepare you for your 341 meeting and the other steps in the process. We look forward to working with you!