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Meeting of Creditors And The Chapter 13 Plan Approval Process

The Chapter 13 meeting of creditors, or 341 meeting, as it is sometimes referred, will be held in the Warehouse Row building on the Fifth Floor. The building is located on 1110 Market Street in downtown Chattanooga. The Trustee's office is located on the Fourth floor of the same building, and the Historic United States Bankruptcy Courthouse is located nearby at 31 East 11th Street, Chattanooga, TN 37401. (Please note this is not the same location as the United States Federal Courthouse.)

Please note the meeting WILL NOT be held in a courtroom and there WILL NOT be a Judge present, only the Trustee and creditor representatives that may wish to ask questions about your case will attend this meeting.

What Should I Bring?

You should bring your driver's license or a State-issued photo identification, your social security card or an official document showing the full number, receipts of your plan payments (paystub and/or money order receipts, and insurance information on your home and cars that are included in your case. Make sure the insurance document shows your policy number, the item of property that is covered, the lien holder or creditor's name, effective dates of coverage and your deductibles. The best document to bring is called a "Policy Declaration Page" which can be supplied by your insurance agent or located at the front of most insurance policies.

How Should I Dress For The Meeting?

Although the meeting is not held in the Courtroom, you should be mindful of your choice of clothing. You should avoid wearing a ball cap or hat, especially in the meeting room. Also, you should not wear shorts or tank tops. It is appropriate to wear casual clothing, as "Sunday dress" is not required. Simply use common sense and if you have questions, do not hesitate to ask the office in advance of your meeting. Also note that many individuals work on the day of their meeting of creditors; therefore, clean, dry work clothing is acceptable if you need to come directly from work or return to work after your meeting.

What Will Occur At The Meeting?

Anywhere from 10 to 20 cases are scheduled at the same time. The Trustee will be seated at the head of a conference table with his legal assistant, and you will wait in the conference room until your case is called. I will be available before the meeting to gather your identification and social security cards and answer any questions you may have. Please silence your cell phones before entering the meeting room! You are allowed in the conference room prior to your meeting if seating allows, so feel free to listen and familiarize yourself with the process if you wish.

At the beginning of each meeting, the Trustee will make announcements and will begin calling the cases. Once your name is called, you should be seated to Ms. Randle's left at the conference table. Ms. Randle will present your ID and Social Security documentation to the Trustee's assistant and you will be sworn in.

The Trustee will likely verify your current address and employment information. He or his staff attorney may then ask other questions about the information you provided in your bankruptcy paperwork, and you should answer him or her loud enough for your response to be heard. Also note that the hearing is tape-recorded, so answer verbally instead of simply nodding or gesturing.

Lawyers or creditor representatives may be present to ask questions about how they will be repaid. Creditors may also ask for insurance information, the condition of the property that secures their customer's loan and information about co-debtors on your account, when applicable. Although Ms. Randle can clarify any questions you don't understand, you are personally responsible for answering the majority of what is asked. Please note that no one should be rude or unkind to you during the meeting, so this should not be a concern.

From start to finish, depending on the issues in your case, the meeting will only last three to six minutes; however, because you may have to wait until your case is called, you will want to pay for 1 to 1-1/2 hours of parking if there are no free spaces available.

What If A Creditor Fails To Appear At The Meeting Of Creditors?

It is NOT mandatory for the creditor or a representative to appear at the meeting. In fact, very few representatives actually appear. Note that a creditor's right to receive payment through the Chapter 13 plan is not based on their attendance at the meeting, and creditors have the option to file objections to your plan online without attending the meeting in person.

Can My Creditors Or The Trustee Object To The Chapter 13 Plan?

The Trustee and/or your creditors have a right to file an objection to your proposed Chapter 13 repayment plan and objections are not uncommon and may even be anticipated. Although objections may be filed, the filing deadline is before or at the meeting of creditors; therefore, you will likely know the day of your meeting whether your case will be approved. Reasons for objections can include the following: failure to pay all plan payments timely before your meeting; failure to propose large enough payments or interest rates to a creditor; failure to have insurance coverage or the proper deductible. Ms. Randle will discuss the basis of the objection with you and will make every attempt to resolve the issue during the meeting of creditors.

If the Trustee or Creditor expresses a concern about your case and this cannot be resolved at the meeting in the short amount of time that is allotted for your case, a hearing will be set before the Court on the following Thursday at 1:30 p.m., unless another time is stated. Often the objection(s) can be resolved before the hearing and you will not be required to attend; however, you should maintain close contact with Ms. Randle's office during this time.

What Happens After The Meeting of Creditors?

If there are no objections or Ms. Randle resolves the objections, the 13 plan will be presented to the Court for approval. Once approved, the Judge enters an Order called an "Order Confirming Chapter 13 Plan." This typically happens within one week of your meeting of creditors, and you will receive a copy of the Order in the mail approximately ten to fourteen days after your meeting of creditors. Occasionally, depending on the complexity of your case, objections may take additional time to resolve; however, you should continue making your plan payments during this time and make sure to update the office immediately if you have questions or have any changes in your contact or employment information.

Once your plan is approved, your payment will never increase or decrease without prior Court approval, so if you need to discuss a change of circumstances, contact the office to discuss your concerns.

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