An Overview of the Meeting of Creditors (341 Meeting)
Despite bankruptcy being an official legal process governed by federal law, the only time most debtors see inside the courtroom during the proceedings is at the Meeting of Creditors, commonly called the 341 meeting. We would like you to have a general understanding of what happens at this meeting, what you will need to bring with you, and the purpose of this conference.
When Does the 341 Meeting Happen?
The meeting of creditors occurs after you have filed for bankruptcy and submitted the paperwork needed to start your Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 filing (the two most common types of bankruptcy). After you file for bankruptcy, the court will assign a trustee to your case. When the trustee is able to take a look at your case and find a time for your 341 meeting, the bankruptcy clerk will notify you of the place and time for the meeting.
What Do You Need to Bring to the 341 Meeting?
No matter which documents you have already supplied to either your attorney or trustee ahead of time, you need to bring along an identification card that contains your full name and your Social Security card (or other official document that displays your nine-digit SS number). The bankruptcy trustee will review your financial records during the meeting, but they normally receive them beforehand. Dress in reasonably nice clothes, but refrain from borrowing expensive-looking jewelry and accessories from your friends. This is not a great look at a bankruptcy hearing.
What to Expect at a 341 Meeting
You will typically be assigned a time to attend the meeting; within the hour of your scheduled start time, you and several other debtors who have filed for bankruptcy will go through essentially the same process. Your trustee – not a judge or jury – will swear you in and ask you a series of questions. Under threat of fraud, you are to answer these questions truthfully. Some of the questions you might be asked are:
- Is the information you provided in the bankruptcy documents true to the best of your ability?
- Are all of your creditors listed in your documents?
- Did you list all of your assets and property?
- Have you incurred any costs on your credit card since your filed for bankruptcy?
- How did you come up with the value of your property?
- What is your monthly income?
- Do you understand the consequences of filing for bankruptcy?
Remember, trustees are not your friend or advocate. They are professionals who, for the most part, are there to ensure that everything you claimed about your finances is correct and make sure your creditors are getting as much as they can. In a Chapter 7 case, the trustee will verify your nonexempt property and distribute it to creditors as appropriate. In a Chapter 13 case, the trustee’s primary duty is to approve a repayment plan to your creditors and distribute payments as they come in.
Do You Really Need an Attorney for the 341 Meeting?
Although the 341 meeting is not a particularly long meeting (usually less than 10 minutes), you should have an attorney by your side at the conference and at every other step of the bankruptcy process. An experienced attorney can help identify assets that are safe from repossession (exempt assets), ensure that you file your documents correctly, and generally ensure the process of settling your debts through bankruptcy goes smoothly.
Maxwell Dunn PLC is well-equipped to protect your rights and generally advocate for you during your bankruptcy. Give us a call at 248-949-1042 today to discuss your options.