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Chapter 7 Best Practices_ 341 Meetings Edition

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Chapter 7 Best Practices:341 Meetings
Presented by Chapter 7 Panel Trustees Catherine Curtis and Chris MurraySouthern District of Texas Bankruptcy Bench Bar ConferenceMay 9-11, 2018 Corpus Christi
Why is the 341 so important?
All bankruptcy debtors must appear and answer questions, under oath, to the chapter 7 trustee and any creditors who attend the meetingPrimary opportunity for the trustee to examine the debtorStatements under oath can be harmful if your client is unpreparedImportant deadlines run from the 341 meeting:30 days of first setting for the 341 meeting, deadline for the debtor to perform under Statement of Intention. 11 U.S.C. § 521(a)(2)(B).30 days after conclusion of meeting, deadline to object to claimed exemptions (or 30 days after most recent amendment to schedules). FRBP 4003(b)(1).60 days after first setting, deadline to object to discharge. FRBP 4004(a).The debtor’s case cannot be closed until the 341 meeting is closed
Question:
What is thespecific time framefollowing the chapter 7 petition forthe United States Trustee to set the meeting of creditors?
Answer:
“Within a reasonable time…” 11 U.S.C. § 341(a)FRBP 2003(a)Between21 and 40 daysafter the petition date.But, that can be extended to within 60 days of the petition date if the meeting is to be held at a place not regularly staffed by UST personnelDifferent rules for other types of cases:Chapter 11: 21-40 days after the petition dateChapter 12: 21-35 days after the petition dateChapter 13: 21-50 days after the petition date
Question:
Once the petition, schedules and SOFA are filed, all the debtor has to do is show up at the 341 meeting
True or False?
False!The debtor must also:Perform all of its other duties under 521 of the CodeCooperate with the trusteein the administration of the case, the preparation of an inventory, and the examination of proofs of claim. FRBP 4002(a)(4).Perhaps most importantly for creditors, “surrender to the trustee all property of the estate and any recorded information, including books, documents, records, and papers, relating to the property of the estate…” 11 U.S.C. § 521(a)(4)
Answer:
Question:
Name two items all debtors must bring with them to the 341 meeting.
Answer:
All debtors must bring with them:Identification – usually a driver’s licenseProof of social security number – usually a social security cardAlternative documents may be acceptableCheck in advance with your trustee to ensure the alternative documents you want to bring will be sufficient
Question:
Name the one scenario in which a 341 meeting isnot required.
Answer:
A “party in interest” may request that the court order that the U.S. Trusteenotconvene a 341 meeting or meeting of equity security holdersifthe debtor has filed a plan as to which the debtor solicited acceptances prior to the commencement of the case. 11 U.S.C. § 341(e) (emphasis added).
Question:
If the debtor has limited English proficiency, any of the following may serve as interpreters at the 341 meeting:Debtor’s counselDebtor’s family member, but only if they are also under oath to tell the truthThe chapter 7 trusteeA professional, certified translatorAny of the above
Multiple Choice
Answer:
D: Only a professional, certified translatorU.S. Trustee requires the use of an independent interpreterTo prevent logistical delays, counsel should advise the trustee if an interpreter will be neededInterpreters are available for every languageDebtors will all be treated equally, regardless of whether an interpreter is needed
Question:
If the schedules and statements are not filed with the bankruptcy petition, whatspecific informationmust the debtor provide immediately to the trustee?
Answer:
Under FRBP 4002(a)(3), the debtor must disclosethe location of real property in which the debtor has an interest; andthe name and address of every person holding money or property subject to the debtor’s withdrawal or orderOf course, the best practice is to avoid this step by filing the schedules and SOFA with the petition
Question:
Name the four questions the trustee isstatutorily requiredto ask during the meeting.
Answer:
11 U.S.C. § 341(d):Is the debtor aware of the consequences of seeking a discharge in bankruptcy and the effects on credit history?Is the debtor aware of their ability to file under another chapter?Is the debtor aware of the effect of receiving a discharge?Is the debtor aware of the effect of reaffirming a debt?The United States Trustee suggests several others, and chapter 7 trustees frequently add their own.https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/ust/legacy/2012/11/29/Section_341(a)_Meeting_Questions.pdf
Question:
The 341 meeting may be continued in the following circumstances:Debtor’s medical emergencyDebtor’s family emergencyUnavailability of critical documentsAny of the above
Multiple Choice
Answer:
D: Any of the above,BUT…Counsel should inform the trustee immediately upon learning of debtor unavailabilityDebtors should be prepared to consent to an extension of the deadline to object to dischargeRepeated “no shows” will likely result in the a motion to dismiss the case
Question:
In a chapter 7 case, the debtor has the absolute right to dismiss their case if they do not like the way things are going.
True or False?
False!Under section 707(a), the court may dismiss a chapter 7 caseonly for causeCause is often based on a failure of the debtor to perform its obligations, such as pay feesBut, when the debtor herself seeks dismissal, courts look for bad faith and the potential prejudice to creditors
Answer:
Question:
Which if the following documents can a debtor get away with not providing to the trustee prior to the 341 meeting?Pay stubsBank statementsTax returnsNone of the above
Multiple Choice
Answer:
D: The debtor must bringall of themDocuments must be provided at least 7 days prior to the 341 meeting.Seesection 521(e)(2)(A).Waiting until the day of the 341 meeting to provide voluminous documents is a risky proposition, because the trustee will likely be required to continue the 341 meeting so he or she has time to review the documents carefully
Question:
The debtor must provide his or her tax return for the most recent tax year ending immediately before the commencement of the case to the trustee at least seven days before the 341 meeting.
True or False?
True . . . but . . .Under FRBP 4002(b)(3), the debtor must provideThe return for most recent year that a return was filed, including any attachments; orA transcript of that tax return; orA written statement that the documentation does not exist.
Answer:
Question:
Once the petition, schedules and SOFA are filed, all the debtor has to do is show up at the 341 meeting
True or False?
False!The debtor must also:Perform all of its other duties under§521 of the CodeCooperate with the trusteein the administration of the case, the preparation of an inventory, and the examination of proofs of claim. FRBP 4002(a)(4).Perhaps most importantly, “surrender to the trustee all property of the estate and any recorded information, including books, documents, records, and papers, relating to the property of the estate…” 11 U.S.C. § 521(a)(4)
Answer:
Question:
The debtor has the general right to amend his or herstatement of intentionat any time before the case is closed.
True or False?
False!The debtor may only amend his or her Statement of Intention within the deadline provided in § 521(a), which iswithin 30 days after the first date set for the meeting of creditors.
Answer:
Key Takeaways:
Preparation is key to a successful (and short) 341 meetingBring required ID and proof of SSNHave clients review their filings in advanceProvide documents well in advance of the 341 meeting to avoid continuancesPrevent delay by informing your trustee of any special circumstancesDebtor unavailabilityNeed for an interpreterAnything else that may require accommodation

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Chapter 7 Best Practices_ 341 Meetings Edition