If you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must attend a meeting called the 341 hearing or meeting of creditors conducted by the bankruptcy trustee assigned to your case. In this article, you'll learn what to expect at the 341 meeting of creditors, including questions the trustee will likely ask you.
The purpose of the meeting is to give the trustee the opportunity to ask you questions the information you provided in the bankruptcy schedules filed with the bankruptcy court. The trustee electronically records the meeting so that an official record exists that can be reviewed by anyone with interest in your case. An interested party must request the recording from the Office of the United States Trustee, the division of the United States Department of Justice responsible for monitoring bankruptcy cases and trustees.
Even though some people informally refer to the 341 meeting as a "creditors’ meeting, " this is misleading. Creditors rarely attend, and they don’t feel much like meetings. A better description would be a cross between an administrative hearing and a deposition.
Also, the bankruptcy judge doesn't attend. Instead, the bankruptcy trustee appointed in your case will hold the meeting and ask you questions under oath.
The meetings are usually very short, with three or more different cases set for the same half hour period. Depending on your district, the meeting might be held in a large room with other people scheduled for a 341 meeting during that same time (about ten people per hour is common). Or, it might be held in a separate small room with only those individuals involved in attendance.
You need to bring picture identification (such as a drivers license, a passport or other government issued identification) and your social security card or other proof of your social security number. Acceptable proof other than a social security card can vary by district. If you are required to bring anything else, you will be informed in advance. The notice that you receive from the clerk that sets the date and time of the meeting may instruct you to bring certain items, or the trustee might contact you with additional requests. Sometimes, documents you provided to the trustee before the meeting will be returned to you there, depending on local practices.
In most districts, a notice called a "Bankruptcy Information Sheet" will be provided or posted at the meeting location for you to read prior to your meeting. You can obtain a copy in advance (in several different languages) by visiting the website of the United States Trustee.
The trustee will call your case and request to review the identification so that your identity can be verified. Then you will be sworn in (or you can affirm) and the meeting will begin. The trustee will begin by having you state your name and address, and asking if you read the bankruptcy information sheet.
Every trustee has a personal procedure and the questions asked will likely depend on the information provided in your schedules. Common questions include:
For most people, the time with the trustee is no more than five to ten minutes, although cases with more complex financial transactions or issues might take longer. If necessary, the trustee has the authority to continue the meeting. This will happen if the trustee needs additional time to review paperwork or to schedule a property inspection, but each of these things rarely happens, especially if the filer turns in all required paperwork promptly.