Consumers in Utah who file for bankruptcy under Chapter 7 are required to attend a "341 hearing" with the bankruptcy trustee and creditors. At the hearing, the trustee will place the debtor under oath and ask a series of questions about the bankruptcy case to determine whether or not to object to the bankruptcy judge. Recognizing that the 341 hearing can be stressful for individuals who have not previously filed for bankruptcy, this article aims to provide a few helpful tips for making the hearing a success.
(1) Know What to Expect
The best way to reduce stress associated with the 341 hearing is to understand what it is and what will be expected of you. The hearing will occur roughly 30 to 45 days after you file for bankruptcy, and will last approximately 10 to 15 minutes. If you filed for bankruptcy in Utah, your hearing will be held in Salt Lake City, Ogden, Provo, or St. George, primarily depending on which is closest.
In addition to you and your Utah bankruptcy lawyer, the bankruptcy trustee will be in attendance and will ask you a series of questions about your case. No bankruptcy judge will be present, but your creditors and their attorneys may attend and ask additional questions. Questions will likely concern the information contained in your bankruptcy petition, whether you have ever filed for bankruptcy before, whether you are aware of the consequences of filing for bankruptcy under Chapter 7, whether you understand the effect of a discharge of debts, and whether you understand the effect of reaffirming a debt. Some attorneys suggest arriving at the hearing ahead of time to listen to other peoples' 341 hearings and observe how they proceed.
(2) Review Your Case
A second important step to a successful 341 hearing is reviewing your case ahead of time. Review your bankruptcy petition with your Utah bankruptcy attorney and be familiar with your own assets and liabilities. Doing so will enable you to answer the trustee's questions accurately and with confidence.
(3) Be Professional
Another requirement to attending a successful 341 hearing is to exhibit professionalism and credibility at the hearing itself. Dress professionally. Arrive ahead of schedule to make sure that you are not late. Once your hearing begins, answer questions truthfully and accurately. Try to remain calm and collected, and avoid bringing small children if possible.
(4) Talk to Your Attorney
Finally, consultation with an experienced Utah bankruptcy lawyer is critical to a successful 341 hearing. A good attorney will be able to help you with each of the steps listed above.
If you are contemplating bankruptcy under Chapter 7 and in need of an attorney, contact the Utah Bankruptcy Hotline at 801-896-3328. The Utah Bankruptcy Hotline maintains a network of experienced Utah bankruptcy lawyers who provide debt relief and bankruptcy counsel to consumers in Utah.