A meeting of creditors (referred to as the §341(a) meeting) is scheduled for Chapters 7, 11, 12, and 13 cases that do not include a railroad. The first meeting of creditors is set no more than 40 days and no fewer than 21 days after the Order for Relief is issued. In Chapter 12 proceedings, the meeting must take place not less than 21 nor more than 35 days after the Order for Relief is issued. In a Chapter 13 case, the meeting is held no fewer than 21 and no more than 50 days after the Order for Relief. If the meeting is held at a place that is not normally staffed, the meeting may be held no more than 60 days after the Order for Relief. A meeting of creditors may be cancelled if, after notice and hearing at the request of any party, the debtor has filed a plan for which the debtor solicited acceptances prior to the commencement of the case. The trustee may order a later date for the meeting if there is a Motion to Vacate an Order for Relief pending. The clerk will notify all creditors, the debtor and debtor’s attorney of the date of the meeting at least 20 days before the scheduled meeting. The notice of meeting of creditors is contained in the Order for Relief sent to all creditors after the petition is filed. The U.S. trustee will appoint an interim trustee who will preside over the meeting. In states that are not under the U.S. Trustee system, the Bankruptcy Administrator, or designee, will preside over the meeting. If creditors have no objection, the interim trustee is usually appointed trustee of the debtor’s estate. In a Chapter 7 case, the trustee, Bankruptcy Administrator, or designee, will put the debtor under oath and examine or question the debtor. When the debtor is examined, the trustee will inform the debtor of:
- The potential consequences of the bankruptcy.
- The debtor’s ability to file a petition under a different chapter.
- The effect of discharge.
- The ramifications of reaffirming a debt.
The trustee, Bankruptcy Administrator, or designee will prepare a record of the meeting. The trustee makes a verbatim audio recording of the debtor’s examination. This record is public and must be retained for two years after the meeting.
Continuing the meeting
The procedures for continuing the §341(a) meeting of creditors is subject to local rule. Most courts require that continuance of the meeting be for good cause only. A request for continuance should be made directly to the U.S. Trustee with validation for the reason for the continuance (such as a doctor’s certificate). The notice must be given to the appropriate trustee. Trustees are assigned according to the applicable chapter of bankruptcy. The Trustee will notify the debtor if the continuance was granted or denied. If granted, the debtor must mail a Notice of Continuance to all creditors notifying them of the new date for the meeting of creditors. A copy of the Notice and Certificate of Service must be sent to the Trustee. Some districts may require that continuance of the meeting be obtained through motion and order of the court. After the matter is heard, the debtor must mail the Order for Continuance to the Trustee, all creditors, and other parties in interest. Other districts require that only a copy of the Notice of Continuance and original Certificate of Service be filed with the court with a copy sent to the U.S. Trustee. If the debtor is unable to attend the meeting of creditors as scheduled, it is important that efforts be made to continue the meeting. The debtor’s failure to attend the meeting is grounds for dismissing the case.