Shortly after you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you will receive a notice for your section 341 meeting of creditors. It’s an essential part of the bankruptcy process that usually takes place at the Federal courthouse, but currently is done over the phone or via a Zoom chat due to the pandemic. You might feel a bit intimidated thinking about your required appearance at the hearing, no matter how it takes place.
Below, we’ll explain what you need to know about your section 341 meeting and how to make sure you’re ready for it. With a bit of preparation, this is a simple part of the process that helps you move your bankruptcy along as quickly as possible.
A 341 meeting is also known as a meeting of creditors or a bankruptcy hearing. It’s an opportunity for the official handling your case – an interim trustee in a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 Trustee – to meet you and ask questions about your background and financial status.
The hearing is reasonably informal. The Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Trustee will ask you some questions. Your creditors may also attend, though they rarely do. The actual bankruptcy judge presiding over your case will not be present at this meeting, which helps preserve their neutrality in making a judgment about your case if there is cause for them to hear something out of the ordinary. Most Debtors in bankruptcy never have a hearing in front of the actual judge.
The meeting happens about 20 to 40 days after your initial bankruptcy filing. At this point in the bankruptcy process, the trustee in Chapter 7 cases is focusing on potential non-exempt assets that can be tapped to pay some of your debts. The Chapter 13 Trustee is looking at your situation to see if they think that your reorganization plan is going to do everything that the law requires. This means you may be expected to provide answers and/or documents to back up your statements.
The 341 meeting involves making sworn testimony, so you’ll be under oath. Answer the trustee’s questions honestly. However, the hearing is not a time to ramble on and talk about things not asked. Keep answers short and to the point. Listen to the guidance of your bankruptcy attorney and follow their instructions.
Some of the questions the bankruptcy trustee asks might feel intrusive, but it’s just part of the process. It’s the trustee’s job to look out for fraud, undisclosed assets, undervalued assets, and other signs that someone might be manipulating the bankruptcy process.
During the meeting, maintain a pleasant attitude and stick with the facts. When the trustee asks a question, answer in a straightforward way based on your discussions with your bankruptcy attorney. Show the trustee that you’re an honest person acting in good faith and helping them get their job done.
Common questions bankruptcy trustees ask at 341 meetings include:
- Do you understand everything contained in your bankruptcy paperwork?
- Did you read and sign all of your bankruptcy documentation yourself?
- Are all possible creditors listed in your bankruptcy schedules?
- Have you ever filed for bankruptcy before?
- What is your monthly income?
- Do you pay child support?
- Are you current on paying your income taxes?
- Do you have a tax refund coming soon?
- Have you made any payments to any creditors within one year?
- Where do you reside?
- Have you lived at that residence for most of the last 180 days?
- Are you in the process of purchasing any real estate?
- What property do you own and how is it valued?
- Did you disclose all possible property?
- Are you part of a business partnership or corporation?
- Do you have homeowners’ insurance or car insurance?
- Does anyone owe you money?
- Are there any concerns, errors, or omissions you wish to bring to my attention?
Before you attend your 341 meeting, discuss the answers to the questions listed above with your bankruptcy attorney. If there’s anything you don’t understand, now’s your last chance to clear things up before the meeting takes place.
On the day of the meeting, dress professionally and not too casually, as if you’re attending a job interview. There are only a few things you’ll need to bring, but they’re essential to the meeting:
- Driver’s license or government-issued ID card
- Government issued social security card
- Any other documents requested
If the hearing is in person, arrive early to find parking so you’ll be on time for the meeting. Your creditors may or may not attend. If they’re present, the trustee might ask them questions and give them an opportunity to speak.
Stay positive and calm. Do not react negatively to any question a party to the hearing asks of you. You will have representation at the hearing that can handle improper questions. If you do not understand a question, say so and do not guess at an answer.
At Sawin & Shea, we have years of experience helping Hoosiers just like you change their lives through bankruptcy. Whether you have old bills that are still causing concern or new costs that you simply can’t handle, contact us as soon as possible.
We’ll help you address any concerns that arise during the bankruptcy process. Please reach out to the team at Sawin & Shea right away so you can feel fully prepared for your 341 meeting.
Filing for bankruptcy is the first step in a fresh financial future. The Indiana bankruptcy attorneys at Sawin & Shea can help you get rid of overwhelming debt and advise you on how to move forward after bankruptcy. We’re here for you during this life-changing process.
Please do not hesitate to call us today at (317) 759-1483 or send an email for a free consultation. We’re ready to help.