Completing your meeting of creditors is a milestone in the bankruptcy process. But you still need to finish your financial management course and submit your certificate of completion to the court (if you haven't already). You also have to wait for some court-required deadlines to pass and comply with any information requests from your trustee. Though it won't apply to every filer, if you have an installment payment plan for the court filing fee or you're entering into a reaffirmation agreement with a creditor, you'll need to follow up on those as well.
After you’ve taken your credit counseling course, filed your bankruptcy forms, and paid your filing fee, you’ll attend a meeting of creditors. This is a big milestone on your path to debt relief through bankruptcy. It’s one of the last official steps Chapter 7 bankruptcy filers have to complete before getting their discharge. This article covers what happens after your meeting of creditors — also called a 341 meeting — is over.
A Short Checklist for Some Bankruptcy Filers
The following steps only apply to some bankruptcy filers. If you’re on an installment payment plan, you need to make a change to one of your forms, or you’re signing a reaffirmation agreement, read on to learn about how these play out after your meeting of creditors.
Complete Your Installment Payments & Amendments (Optional)
File an Amendment To Update Your Forms (Optional)
If you realize you made a mistake or forgot to list something on your bankruptcy forms, you canupdate your forms by filing an amendment even after your 341 meeting is done. In some cases, thebankruptcy trustee may even ask you to make an update. Don’t worry about updating the balance owed to your creditors even if you realize it was a bit off on your initial schedules. If you do make any updates to your forms, make sure you follow all the court’s rules and guidelines.
Complete Your Reaffirmation Agreement (Optional)
If you're reaffirming a car loan, you have 45 days from the date of the 341 meeting to get the signedreaffirmation agreement to the car loan lender. If you don't, theautomatic stay expires and the bank can repossess the car without further notice. Unless the attorney representing the filer signs off on the reaffirmation agreement, the court has to approve it.
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Steps That Apply to All Filers
The following four items apply to all bankruptcy filers.
Complete the Second Bankruptcy Course
You may have taken the required financial management course before your 341 meeting, but if not, you need to do so within 60 days after the meeting. The course helps prepare you to make the most of your fresh start after bankruptcy. You’ll learn financial management skills like how to budget, deal with financial crises, and rebuild your credit.
TheBankruptcy Code requires all filers to take this course. If you don't take it, you won't be eligible to receive adischarge in your case. To let the bankruptcy court know you’ve completed the course, make sure you send your certificate of completion to the court clerk. Don’t send it to your trustee.
Wait for Deadlines To Pass
The clock starts ticking on two important deadlines after the 341 meeting:
Anyone who thinks that you shouldn’t be entitled to receive a discharge in your case has 60 days to file anobjection to your discharge. The 60-day time limit starts on the original date of your 341 meeting and stands even if your meeting gets postponed.
The trustee, a creditor, or anyone else with an interest in your case can file these objections, but both are uncommon. You can find the exact deadlines set in your case on Form 309A. Once the deadlines pass, no one is allowed to file an objection.
Receive Your Discharge
You should expect to receive your discharge in the mail about 70 days after your creditors’ meeting. This isn’t a firm deadline, though. Technically, the court can enter a discharge as soon as the deadline to object to your discharge has passed. But each court has a different approach and timeline for granting and sending out discharge orders.
If it’s been more than 90 days since your creditors’ meeting and you haven’t received your discharge, contact the clerk’s office to find out why. Don’t contact your trustee.
Deal With the Trustee
The bankruptcy trustee assigned to your case will determine whether you have ano-asset case or you have non-exempt assets available to pay creditors. The discharge is entered according to the same timeline for both asset and no-asset cases.
If all your assets are exempt…
In a no-asset case, the trustee will file a Report of No Distribution with the court to let everyone know that there are no assets to pay creditors. Since that also signals to the court that the trustee is done with your case, the court will close your case shortly after your discharge order has been granted.
If you have non-exempt assets…
If the trustee is administering assets in your case, the case will stay open for however long it takes the trustee to complete the administration of your case. Administering assets could mean selling certain property for the benefit of your creditors or waiting for a non-exempt tax refund to come in. The administration process is very different in each case.
If your trustee requests additional information or documents from you, either at your 341 meeting or later, make sure to provide everything to them in a timely manner. If you disagree with any of their assessments, you may want to consider hiring a bankruptcy lawyer to help you.
Even though you've already received your discharge, you still need to cooperate with the trustee. This often means sending them a copy of your tax return for the year your case was filed in. Make sure to tell the trustee and the bankruptcy court if your contact information changes. Always carefully review and respond (if necessary) to any correspondence you receive from the trustee. Once the trustee files their final report with the court, the case will be closed.
Congrats! You’re almost to the finish line. Completing your meeting of creditors is a milestone worth celebrating during the bankruptcy process. But your case isn’t finished yet. Make sure to follow up with your installment payment plan and reaffirmation agreement, if you’re entering into one. If you realize you made a mistake on one of your forms, file an amendment.
If none of those situations apply to you, you’ll still need to be sure to finish your financial management course and submit your certificate of completion to the court. Then, you’ll wait for some court-required deadlines to pass before you receive your discharge. As your trustee finishes up their job, be sure to comply with any information requests they make to ensure the path to your discharge is as smooth and quick as possible.