When a bankruptcy case is filed (Chapter 7, 13, or 11), the bankruptcy court schedules a meeting about 30 days from the date of the filing of the case. This meeting is called the “meeting of creditors” or the Section 341 meeting (as required by the Bankruptcy Code). In theory the purpose of the meeting is to give interested creditors an opportunity to appear and inquire about issues related to the filed schedules.
And sometimes this does happen. Occasionally, creditors with security interests will inquire and ask about whether their collateral is insured, or other similar situations may arise. In practice, however, creditors rarely appear for the meeting of creditors. The trustees don’t look favorably on extended questioning of debtors at the meeting of creditors, so creditors generally find their appearance to be of little use in protecting their interests.
In Kansas City, different locations exist for meetings in Kansas and in Missouri. On the Kansas side of the state line, the meetings for Chapter 7, 13, and 11 cases are held at the US Bankruptcy Court at 500 State Avenue, Kansas City KS 66101. On the Missouri side, the Chapter 7 and 11 meetings are held at the US Bankruptcy Court, 400 E. 9th St., Kansas City, MO, and the Chapter 13 meetings are held at the 808 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, MO. The debtor receives notice of the date, time, and location of the meeting from the court.
Often, the bankruptcy trustee will require certain things to be provided to his office in advance of the meeting. You will receive notice of these things, but typically a debtor is asked for his tax return, vehicle title or registration, bank statement, and any other information that may be requested that is related to the case.
A debtor is also required to bring with him or her to the trustee’s meeting a valid photo identification, and a proof of social security number. Appearing at the meeting promptly and with the required information is one of the key duties required of a debtor.
The trustee is required by law to conduct the Section 341 meeting. Excusing a personal appearance is very rare, but it does happen. In general, excused absences from the meeting of creditors is only allowed if a debtor is in the overseas military, is confined, or cannot appear due to some serious medical problem.
It is important to remember that the trustee’s meeting is not meant to be adversarial in nature. The trustee is required to ask the debtor certain questions related to the completion and signing of the schedules, but the meeting is not a trial or “grill session.” No one is there to make you feel bad. In fact, the meetings are quite cordial in nature, and debtors are often pleasantly surprised at how efficient and painless the process is.