In both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the debtor must attend a meeting called the 341 hearing or the meeting of creditors. The bankruptcy trustee presides over the meeting. You must provide certain documents either before or at the meeting of creditors. Some of those documents are required by law, some by the procedures in place in your district, some by the trustee’s preference, and others by the particular circumstances in your case.
Documents Required By Law
Bankruptcy law requires that you provide the following documents:
Last tax return. You must provide a copy of your last tax return filed to the bankruptcy trustee at least seven days prior to the date set for your creditors meeting. This requirement is strictly enforced. Generally, your 341 hearing will not go forward if you do not comply, in advance, and your case could be dismissed.
Identification documents. The trustee must verify your identity and your social security number at the creditors meeting by reviewing certain documentation. Consequently, you will be asked to bring a government issued identification card containing a photograph and proof of your social security number to the creditors meeting.
- A driver’s license or a passport will satisfy the first requirement.
- Your original social security card is the best method to satisfy the second, although some trustees may accept a tax return or a letter from the Internal Revenue Service or the Social Security Administration containing the number. This varies greatly between districts and trustees. If you intend to bring anything other than your original social security card to the 341 hearing, you should check with the trustee’s office before you go to make sure your document is satisfactory to the trustee.
Failing to provide your last filed tax return to the trustee at least seven days prior to the 341 hearing, bringing documents to the 341 hearing which do not satisfy the identity verification requirement, or not providing documents at all will result in the 341 hearing being continued or your case being dismissed.
Additional Requests by the Trustee and Debtor's Duty to Cooperate
Some trustees have standardized lists of documents that the debtor must provide prior to the 341 hearing, while other trustees limit their requests to items that they feel require clarification or verification. While the bankruptcy law does not identify these specific documents, it does provide that it is the debtor's duty to turn over documents to and cooperate with the trustee. If you fail to comply with your obligations, the court could deny your discharge or dimiss your case.
Documents Commonly Requested by the Trustee
Trustees often request any or all of the following:
- tax returns for you or your business interests
- bank statements
- deeds to properties and titles to cars
- insurance policies and riders
- closing statements and other sale documents
- documentation relating to transfers of real or personal property
- trust documents
- domestic support orders
- business inventories, balance sheets, and profit and loss statements
- investment or retirement account statements
- credit card statements
- financing contracts
- marital settlement agreements and/or divorce judgments
- prenuptual or antenuptual agreements
- shareholder agreements, partnership agreements, and LLC operating agreements
- stock certificates
- leases, and
- title certificates.