A 341 hearing is also called a meeting of creditors. This takes place between you, the Trustee, and your creditors – if any of them show up. It’s a short meeting, but a very important one, and you will be asked about 20-25 questions about your financial situation. This type of meeting is consistent across all types of bankruptcies – Chapter 7, Chapter 11, and Chapter 13 being the most commonly filed types of bankruptcies. Ideally, you should attend with your attorney present, make any amendments to your case before this meeting, and make sure that the trustee is advised of any changes. In general, the meeting follows this type of format as provided by the Justice.gov website. Bankruptcies, as with all other legal proceedings, follow a set procedure and form.
Tips for success at your 341 meeting of creditors:
- You (or your bankruptcy attorney) will need to provide the trustee with your 521 documents at least a week before your meeting so that the trustee might review them.
- You will need to bring a state-issued ID or driver’s license, US passport, military ID, student ID, government ID, or your resident alien card and your Social Security card. You must prove your identity to the trustee in order to proceed, in the absence of a valid Social Security card, you may ask the trustee if a paycheck stub, W-2 or 1099, or some other form with your number may be substituted. Originals only! No copies. Also, certain courthouses will not allow you to bring cell phones into the meeting room, so check with your attorney prior to your meeting whether your courthouse allows cell phones.
- This is not a trial and Judges are not allowed to attend these meetings. But remember you are under oath just as you would be if you took the stand in court. It’s a meeting to ascertain the facts of your financial state, so when you are asked these questions, please understand that the trustee is not accusing you of wrongdoing or trying to make you justify your bankruptcy.
- If your creditors do attend, they have the right to ask you questions, though the trustees' schedule generally limits this to just a few minutes. Creditors who do not attend the meeting are not giving up their right to file a claim or dispute a discharge. Creditors can include former spouses, business partners or anyone that potentially has a claim against you.
- If you do not provide all the documentation to the trustee by this meeting, the proceeding may be continued until that information can be produced. Also, the trustee may require more documentation or you may be asked to amend your paperwork in accord with the trustee’s findings.
As you can see, the 341 meeting is a little intimidating to face on your own, and unfortunately court workers, the trustee, and clerks are not permitted to advise you. Even with a “simple” Chapter 7, this kind of meeting is mandatory. You should have an experience bankruptcy attorney to help you file and be by your side at this meeting. If you’re thinking of filing for bankruptcy you should talk to us first. We offer free consultations at either in Fort Lauderdale or our new West Palm Beach office. Give us a call today at 954-765-3166 and let’s get started.