If you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must attend something called the 341 hearing or the meeting of creditors.The bankruptcy trustee that is assigned to your case will preside over this meeting. Read on to learn what to expect at the 341 hearing, what role your trustee plays, and questions your trustee is likely to ask you.
Purpose of the 341 Hearing
The purpose of the meeting is to give the trustee the opportunity to ask you questions about and or verify the information you provided in the bankruptcy schedules that you filed with the bankruptcy court. The meeting is electronically recorded so that there is an official record that can be reviewed by anyone who may have an interest in your case. Generally, an interested party must specifically request the recording from the Office of the United States Trustee, a division of the United States Department of Justice that is responsible for monitoring bankruptcy cases and trustees.
Who Is at the 341 Meeting
Often the 341 meeting is referred to as a "creditors’ meeting." This is misleading in that creditors rarely attend these meetings. They also don’t feel much like meetings. They are better described as a cross between an administrative hearing and a deposition. The bankruptcy judge does not attend; instead the bankruptcy trustee that was appointed in your case presides at the meeting. You will be required to answer the trustee’s questions under oath.
Where Is the Meeting Held?
The meetings are usually very short, with three or more different cases set for the same half hour time period. Depending on the way they are handled in your district, they may be held in a large room with all of the people who have 341 meetings during that time period sitting in and listening or they might be held in a separate small room with only the people who are attending the specific meeting that is taking place. Most people in attendance are also filing for bankruptcy.
What to Bring to the Meeting
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 varies by district and sometimes by trustee. 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 that you were required to provide to the trustee prior to the meeting, will be returned to you there. This all depends on local procedures.
In most districts, a noticed 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.
What to Expect at the 341 Hearing
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.
Common Bankruptcy Trustee Questions
Every trustee has their own procedure and what they ask may depend on the information provided in your particular schedules, but you can expect general questions such as:
- Are the schedules that you filed true and correct?
- Did you list everything you own and all the people you owe money to?
- Do you own anything that is not listed in the schedules?
- What happened to cause you to have to file for bankruptcy?
- Have you ever filed for bankruptcy before (and if so, what Chapter did you file, when did you file, and did you receive a discharge)?
- Did you sell or give away anything within the last year?
- Is anyone holding anything that you own?
- How long have you lived at your current address?
- Do you anticipate becoming entitled to any inheritances?
- Does anyone owe you any money?
- Are you suing anyone?
- Do you have any claims of action against anyone as a result of any accidents, personal injury, or for any other reason?
- Have you made any payments to any creditor over and above the regular monthly payment due?
- Have you paid down your mortgage in excess of the monthly payment or transferred any money into retirement accounts or IRAs?
The Conclusion of the Meeting of Creditors
For most people, the 341 meeting is over in five to ten minutes. Some cases have more complex financial transactions or issues and might take longer. The trustee has the authority to continue the meetings, either rescheduling them or extending them to another date and time but this is rarely done.