What are the basics
Typically a debtor need attend only one hearing which is different than other forms of litigation. The hearing is typically held one month after filing, but, depending on case load, may be held later than that.
The location of the hearing depends on which county you live in. For Lake, Cuyahoga, Lorain, and Geauga counties, you are assigned to Cleveland. If you live in Summit, Portage, or Medina Counties you are assigned to Akron. The meeting locations is not always the courthouse. In Akron, the hearings are held in a shopping mall. Cleveland, Youngstown and Canton are held in their Courts. Ashtabula County (which is part of Youngstown’s court system) meetings in Jefferson. It is therefore important that you keep your hearing notice. Here are the meeting locations in our trustee region.
The Reason for the 341 Hearing
You do not see a judge at a 341 hearing (if all goes well you will never meet the judge). Instead you meet someone who is know as the trustee. He or she is the closest person to an opposing counsel you will meet in the bankruptcy system. The job of a Trustee is to determine if there is anything that he or she can take from your, sell it, and deliver the proceeds to the creditors. This examination is being done to determine if there is anything that they can take.
While the above paragraph may sound a little frightening, most of the trustees are actually nice and all that I have come across are fair. Furthermore, the trustees as well as ourselves must follow the law. That law is pretty clear what a trustee may or may not take so there is likely to be no surprises.
What You Need to Bring
The rules of bankruptcy procedure require that your bring three items to your bankruptcy hearing.
- A government issued id (drivers license or state id)
- A government issued document with your social security number on it (social security card, social security statement, 1099, w2 But not your tax return or your bankruptcy notice
- Your most recent bank statement
- Most recent paystub
Furthermore the Bankruptcy Code requires under 11 USC 521(e)(2) that I provide the trustee with a copy of your most recent tax return 7 days prior to your hearing. If that does not happen the court can dismiss the case.
What to Wear and Kids
I would suggest business casual for the hearing. Pants and a collared shirt is adequate. It is not a good idea to bring your kids to this hearing, but if there is no alternative make sure that they behave during the hearing.
The hearing itself should last about 5-10 minutes. However keep in mind that they may not call you right away. The questions that will be asked are similar to the questions that I asked at the signing consultation, except where most of the time at a signing is focused on the debts, this hearing will be focused on property.
What Happens Next
After the hearing, the trustee may ask for additional documents, require you to come to an additional hearing, or conclude and end the hearing.
At a later date I will go into greater detail about this hearing.