Shortly after you file your case you will receive a “Notice of Commencement.” It details all the important information about your case. It has the case number, the date and time of your 341A hearing First Meeting of Creditors, where that meeting will be held, who your Chapter 7 or 13 Trustee is and a bunch of other information and deadlines. It is important to keep this document with your case file. This document and the full set of documents we file with the Court, and the discharge order you’ll receive at the end of your case are all the documents you need for your case.
Now what about those deadlines? What are they for and what do they mean?
There are two (2) deadlines in the Notice of Commencement: (1) The “Deadline to Object to Debtor’s Discharge or to Challenge Dischargeability of Certain Debts”; and (2) Deadline to Object to Exemptions.
The first deadline is a pretty hard and fast deadline for creditors or the Trustee to challenge whether you should get a discharge at all or only excepted as to a certain debt. The first challenge is under 11 U.S.C. § 727 and the second under 11 U.S.C. § 523. The deadline is set 60 days after the 341A First Meeting of Creditors. If the creditors want to sue under 11 U.S.C. § 523 because they deem your debt not to be dischargeable because of fraud, breach of fiduciary duty or “willful and malicious injury” via personal injury solicitors they may do so if they do so before that date. They can also petition the court for an extension of that date if they cannot determine before then whether they want to proceed with that lawsuit. A creditor or the Trustee can also sue you for a complete denial of your discharge if they believe that you’ve so abused the Bankruptcy Code such that you don’t deserve a discharge at all. Were Bernie Madoff to file bankruptcy it would be pointless because he would be denied his discharge under Section 727.
The second deadline is to object to your exemptions. That deadline is 30 days after the 341A hearing is concluded. So if the Trustee continues your hearing without concluding it the start of the 30 days does not begin. The Exemptions are what protects your property. Debtors and Trustees are not always in agreement with what constitutes a permissible claim of exemption. If a Trustee fails to challenge an exemption within the 30 days then he or she can no longer do so unless there are extraordinary circumstances.
So those are your Notice of Commencement deadlines. In over 95% of cases they have no meaning because challenges are rare. Only in cases with very special issues do they ever come into play.