What to Expect at a 341 Meeting in Pittsburgh
In Pittsburgh, the first meeting of creditors in a case under chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code is not scheduled until all of the required documents are filed or submitted to the bankruptcy court. For consumer debtors, those documents include a voluntary petition for relief in a case under chapter 7, a statement of intent, schedules disclosing assets, liabilities, income and expenses, a statement of financial affairs and a means test. Additionally, debtors whose bankruptcy lawyers electronically file documents in their cases must submit a document bearing their social security numbers and original signatures of the debtors and their counsel which is received by the bankruptcy clerk but is not available to the public. Debtors must also complete pre-bankruptcy credit counseling and submit their certificates of counseling before the meeting of creditors is scheduled.
The Notice of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case
The Notice of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case provides important information to the debtors and their lawyers as well as to creditors and other parties in interest in the bankruptcy case. The notice will include the name and contact information for the chapter 7 trustee assigned to the case. In Pittsburgh, cases are typically assigned to trustees who serve on a panel of trustees. One of the trustee’s important duties is to scrutinize debtors’ bankruptcy filings and to make certain that they are complete and accurate. A chapter 7 trustee will also determine whether there may be assets available to make a distribution to the holders of unsecured claims.
The Notice of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case will also include the location of the meeting in downtown Pittsburgh and the date and time of the meeting. Additionally, the Notice will provide important deadlines for creditors to exercise rights against the debtor and information about filing a proof of claim and debtors’ exemptions.
The Chapter 7 Meeting of Creditors in Pittsburgh
The chapter 7 trustee will begin the meeting by reviewing the debtor’s photo identification and social security card. Next the trustee will have the debtors solemnly swear or affirm to tell the truth. The meeting will be recorded and the audio or transcript can be made available if necessary for use later in the case.
Your bankruptcy lawyer will prepare you for the questions that the trustee will focus upon. There are certain questions that the trustee must ask in order to complete the forms required to close the meeting. Your bankruptcy lawyer will also accompany you at the meeting of creditors and will enter his or her appearing on the record of the meeting. If you don’t understand a question or the legal significance of certain matters, your bankruptcy attorney will help explain them to you.
Typical meetings of creditors in chapter 7 cases in Pittsburgh are brief affairs lasting less than 10 minutes. More complex cases or cases with extensive creditor participation may extend longer. Your bankruptcy lawyer will have you prepared for your meeting of creditors and you will know what to expect before your meeting is called. The 341 meeting of creditors in Pittsburgh is an important step in the direction of getting a discharge in case under chapter 7 and being awarded a fresh start.
Saving Money on a Bankruptcy Filing in Pittsburgh
Questions to Ask Your Pittsburgh Bankruptcy Lawyer to Get the Best Deal
Those considering filing a voluntary bankruptcy petition under the United States Bankruptcy Code often look far and wide in order to get the best deal possible. When considering engaging a lawyer to represent you, here are a few things to consider.
Does the Lawyer have Experience Representing Debtors in Bankruptcy Cases?
Bankruptcy is a very complex and ever-developing field of law. The basis for bankruptcy law is traceable to the United States Constitution. Today, American bankruptcy law is based in a federal statute codified in Title 11 of the United States Code. Bankruptcy practice is further governed by the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure which rules are set out by the United States Supreme Court. While original jurisdiction for bankruptcy cases rests in the United States district courts, that jurisdiction is routinely referred to the United States bankruptcy courts. Bankruptcy courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and its judges are not appointed by the President to serve for life as are Article III judges.
Because of the specialized nature of bankruptcy practice, consumers are best served by first ascertaining whether their prospective counsel has represented debtors in bankruptcy cases in Pittsburgh. In addition to the United States Bankruptcy Code and Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, bankruptcy courts and even individual bankruptcy judges often have unique forms, procedures and rules for debtors to follow. In some instances, non-conformity to those rules and procedures can have important consequences that may impact debtors’ substantive rights.
What Other Costs are Associated with Filing a Bankruptcy Case in Pittsburgh?
Lawyers in Pittsburgh may detail their legal fees separately from other costs that debtors will also have to pay. Almost all consumer debtors will need to complete a course in pre-petition credit counseling prior to filing their bankruptcy cases. The cost of those credit counseling courses may vary substantially from one approved provider to another. Your bankruptcy lawyer may be able to give you advice on how to get the best deal on your bankruptcy credit counseling. Similarly, debtors must take a post-petition course in financial management. An experienced Pittsburgh bankruptcy attorney may be able to help find the best deal on bankruptcy debtor education.
Lastly, an important cost in most is the fee for filing the case itself. That fee changes from time to time and also varies based upon the kind of bankruptcy case you file. Your Pittsburgh bankruptcy lawyer can provide you with a schedule of court fees and explain how those payments will be made.
Do you Trust your Pittsburgh Bankruptcy Lawyer?
Debtors sometimes find that saving money by hiring lawyers in whom they do not have confidence may end up being a very costly mistake. Your Pittsburgh bankruptcy lawyer should provide you with dependable advice that helps you decide whether a bankruptcy case is right for you, what type of bankruptcy might best fit your circumstances, how to apply bankruptcy exemptions, disclose your financial condition and comply with the formalistic mandates of bankruptcy in order to achieve your fresh start goals.
Gives yourself the best chance of getting the best deal on a bankruptcy filing in Pittsburgh.
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