If you file for bankruptcy relief, you will be required to attend a hearing called the meeting of creditors (also called the 341 hearing). But completing your 341 hearing does not end your bankruptcy. Depending on whether you filed for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you will need to do certain things before you can receive your discharge. Read on to learn more about how to complete your bankruptcy after the 341 hearing.
For more information about the 341 hearing, see our topic area on The Meeting of Creditors.
The Bankruptcy Trustee May Require Further Information
The bankruptcy trustee reviews your bankruptcy papers and supporting documents prior to your 341 hearing. If you have not provided enough information to satisfy the trustee, he or she will notify you of any further documentation requirements and will schedule another hearing to allow you time to get the necessary information. In general, the trustee will continue the 341 hearing until he or she is satisfied with all of the information and documents in your case.
Creditors Can Still Object to Your Discharge
Even if the trustee is satisfied with your bankruptcy papers and concludes the 341 hearing, creditors have 60 days after your initial meeting of creditors to file an objection to your discharge. Objections to discharge are the exception rather than the norm. But if you incur new debts or charges shortly before filing for bankruptcy, those creditors may have grounds to argue that their debts should not be discharged.
You Must Complete a Debtor Education Course
In order to receive a bankruptcy discharge, you are required to complete a debtor education course (also called a financial management course) after filing your case. If you filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must complete the debtor education course within 60 days after the initial date set for the 341 hearing. Failure to do so will result in your case being closed without a discharge. In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must complete the course prior to making your last plan payment or filing a motion for a hardship discharge.
You May Have to Attend a Reaffirmation Hearing
If you wish to reaffirm a debt (sign a new agreement with the lender to make yourself personally liable again) such as your car loan, the bankruptcy court may need to hold a hearing to make sure that the reaffirmation is not an undue hardship on you. If your budget shows that you can’t afford the monthly payments on the reaffirmed debt, you may have to attend a hearing and explain to the judge why the reaffirmation will not be an undue hardship on you before your bankruptcy is completed.
To learn more about car loan reaffirmations, see Reaffirming Car Loans in Bankruptcy.
You May Have to Attend a Chapter 13 Confirmation Hearing
In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the bankruptcy court and the trustee must approve your repayment plan before it is finalized. If the trustee believes that your Chapter 13 bankruptcy is not feasible, you will have to attend a confirmation hearing in front of the judge and explain why your case should be approved. In some jurisdictions, you may need to go to a confirmation hearing even if the trustee approves your plan at the meeting of creditors.
For more information, see The Chapter 13 Repayment Plan.
You Must Complete Your Chapter 13 Plan Before You Can Receive Your Discharge
Even if the trustee approves your Chapter 13 bankruptcy at the 341 hearing, keep in mind that you have to make monthly payments for three to five years to complete your plan. In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you will only receive a discharge after you have completed all of your plan payments.