The 341 meeting often marks the last official step the filer in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case has to complete. Here is what happens after the 341 meeting.
(1) Optional: Installment Payments & Amendments
If you’re paying your court filing fee via installments, make sure you make all remaining payments by the stated deadline. Your case can still be dismissed if the full filing fee is not paid.
If you realize you made a mistake or forgot to list something on your forms, you can update your forms by filing an amendment even after your 341 meeting is done. In some cases, the bankruptcy trustee may even request a certain update be made. 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 rules and guidelines of the court.
(2) Complete the second bankruptcy course
If you haven’t done so already, you’ll want to take the financial management course shortly after your creditors’ meeting. This second counseling course is required under the Bankruptcy Code. If you don't take it, you won't be eligible to receive a discharge in your case. If you want, you can take this course before your 341 meetings, so you don't have to worry about it later. Either way, make sure you send your certificate of completion to the court when done. Do not send it to your trustee.
(3) Wait for deadlines to pass
A number of deadlines are set for after the 341 meeting. Anyone who thinks you've claimed an improper exemption on your Schedule C has 30 days from the date of the meeting to file an objection to claimed exemptions with the bankruptcy court. Anyone who thinks that you should not be entitled to receive a discharge in your case, has 60 days to file an objection to your discharge. You can find the exact deadlines set in your case on your Form 309A. Once the deadlines pass, no objections can be filed.
(4) Optional: Complete your reaffirmation
If you're reaffirming your car loan, you have 45 days from the date of the 341 meeting to get the signed reaffirmation agreement to the car loan lender. If you don't, the automatic 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. This has to be done before the court can enter the discharge order.
(5) Receive your discharge
You should expect to receive your discharge in the mail about 70 days after your creditors’ meeting. This is not a hard rule - technically the discharge can be entered 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 you're reaffirming a car loan, the discharge order cannot be entered until after the court has approved or denied your reaffirmation agreement.
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. Do not contact your trustee.
(6) Case Administration
The discharge is only one part of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The other part is handled by the bankruptcy trustee assigned to the case. They’re the ones that determine whether a case is a no-asset case or one where nonexempt assets are available to pay creditors. The discharge is entered according to the same time line for both asset and no-asset cases.
If you don’t have any nonexempt assets
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, it will close your case shortly after your discharge order has been granted.
If you do have nonexempt assets
If the trustee is administering assets in your case - either by selling certain property for the benefit of your creditors or maybe by waiting for your non-exempt tax refund to come in - the case will stay open for however long it takes the trustee to complete the administration of your case. This process is very different in each case. If your trustee is requesting additional information or documents from you, either at your 341 meeting or later, make sure to provide everything to the trustee in a timely manner.
Even though you've already received your discharge, you continue to have a duty 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 you keep the trustee and the bankruptcy court up to date if your contact information changes and make sure to carefully review and, if necessary, respond to any correspondence you may receive from the trustee. Once the trustee files their final report with the court, the case will be closed.
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