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Bankruptcy Court in Washington State

Washington State Bankruptcy 

Meeting of Creditors

341 Hearing

After filing my Washington State bankruptcy, will I have to go to court?  Yes.  After your Washington bankruptcy petition is filed your 341 Hearing or "Meeting of Creditors" is scheduled.  You must attend this hearing.  Many of our bankruptcy clients are very nervous about having to go to court.

In reality, however, the overwhelming majority of bankruptcy court hearings are very brief and go very smoothly.  This is why our attorneys spend so much time working with you in properly preparing your Bankruptcy Petition.  If your petition is properly prepared and you have completely honest with us, then you have nothing to worry about.

Our bankruptcy lawyers successfully file hundreds of bankruptcy petitions every year.  And, very few cases have any significant issues come up at their 341 Hearing.  Our bankruptcy attorneys handle cases throughout Western Washington.  Where your 341 Hearing will be held is determined by where you live. 

You can find out where your bankruptcy Meeting of Creditors hearing will be held by visiting the Federal Bankruptcy Bourt's informational page on where 341 hearings are held in Washington Washington.  And, if you would like to know more about what formally happens at your bankruptcy court appearance, we recommend visiting the Western District of Washington's FAQ page regarding 341 Hearings.

The Meeting of the Creditors

In both types of bankruptcy, the only hearing you are likely to attend is called a Meeting of Creditors or 341 Hearing about one month after you file your case. In a Chapter 7, you meet a Trustee who is appointed to administer your case.  The trustee is not a judge.  He or she works for the Office of the US Trustee, which is part of the US Department of Justice.  The final decisions in your case are made by a bankruptcy judge.

Even though this hearing is called a Meeting of Creditors, creditors rarely appear.  An attorney should be present with you – of course, when you hire our office, you can be assured you will have an experienced bankruptcy attorney working for you. We will be right by your side during your Meeting of Creditors to ensure that everything goes smoothly.

The trustee will ask you a series of questions, mostly about whether there are any assets of the “bankruptcy estate”, which includes your property and some property that has been recently transferred out of your name that could be recovered.  The trustee is also there to be sure that your bankruptcy documents are accurate and that the law is being followed.

A good bankruptcy lawyer will prepare you for everything that normally happens at a 341 Hearing. Occasionally, unforeseen issue do come up, but they are exceedingly rare in our cases. Our Washington State bankruptcy lawyers are experienced and skilled when it comes to working with the Bankruptcy Code. And, our attorneys understand that part of what you are paying us for is to make sure that there aren't any surprises when we appear in court with you.

These hearings are very informal but they are federal court proceedings and your testimony is under oath – so you should take them seriously. They usually only last about 10 minutes.

In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you can expect a discharge and, so long as there are no property issues in your case, your case should be closed about 90 days after your 341 Meeting of the Creditors.   In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, your Chapter 13 Plan can be confirmed about a month after this meeting.

In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the discharge basically cancels or "wipes out" most, if not all of your debt.  Credit cards, payday loans, medical bills, deficiencies from car repossessions, payday loans, debts to former landlords, damages from uninsured accidents (where there is no bodily injury or death as a result of the use of drugs or alcohol) are all discharged.  This means that the debt and all obligations associated with it are completely wiped out.  In a sense, it's like the debt never existed.