Categories: Bankruptcy

7 Things to Know for Bankruptcy 341 Meeting

Preparing for Bankrupty 341 Meeting with the Trustee

When you are filing for bankruptcy, there are a lot of responsibilities and tasks that you must complete.  Even with a “simple” Chapter 7, you are entering into a complex legal procedure in a federal court.  One of the things that you need to know about is the bankruptcy 341 meeting – or a meeting with your creditors and the trustee. Here are a few tips to help you have a successful 341 meeting:

  1. Dress Professionally. You are not going to make much of an impression on the trustee if you show up in a cutoff t-shirt and cargo shorts. You should dress as if you were attending a business casual event.  No need for a suit and tie, but show some respect for the federal court system.  Also, remember to list all your jewelry and watches in your bankruptcy as the Trustee will notice if you forgot to list that watch of necklace that you wear to the meeting.
  2. Make sure the required documents are to the Trustee early.  You are going to need your documentation to the Trustee well in advance of the meeting.  Make sure you get all the documents (including tax returns and other 521 documents) in advance to your attorney for review and submission at least a few weeks before the 341 meeting.  If the Trustee does not have these documents, it will be impossible for them to move forward with the case, causing unnecessarily delay for receiving a discharge and extra work by attending a continued 341 meeting.
  3. Bring your original drivers license and social security card. Leave your cell phone in the car.  Most Federal Court buildings do not allow civilians to bring cell phones into the building.  To avoid this frustration, leave the cell phone in the car!
  4. Be honest and direct. The Trustee has required questions that they are going to ask you.  I blogged about these questions previously.  Be prepared, answer honestly and be direct.  If you are evasive, the Trustee will set a 2004 examination (deposition), and this will make you miss more work and spend more money to defend the 2004 exam.
  5. Ensure accuracy of the information that is filed on your behalf. Having accurate schedules is the base for every successful case.  If you “forget” to put assets on your schedules, the Trustee will assume you “forgot” more assets and will need to do a deeper investigation.  Be honest from the beginning, and a good attorney can tell you what the Trustee may request.  Even one mistake could see your filing dismissed. Having accurate schedules is one of the primary reasons that people need to use attorneys instead of DIY or bankruptcy preparers. Attorneys are the only people allowed to offer legal advice about what needs to be in these legal documents.  Not paralegals, not preparers, not court staff, and not the trustee.  Once the Trustee thinks you have lied on these schedules, your case can make a quick turn for the worse, and you could end up getting your discharge denied.
  6. You must complete credit counseling before filing your case. Whether online or by phone you must have the counseling certificate to file your case.  If you do not have the credit counseling certificate at the time of filing, your case most likely will be dismissed.
  7. Finally, if you miss your 341 meeting, your filing will be dismissed by the trustee, and you will go back to square one. Attending this meeting is not optional, even if your creditors do not put in an appearance, your attendance is required.  Also, show up early, just in case there is traffic or a line to get into the Court.

If your head is spinning over all the things that you need to remember, it may be time to consider getting an attorney to handle your bankruptcy. As I’ve said before, even filing for Chapter 7 is a complex legal procedure. There is a reason that bankruptcy is a specialty practice among attorneys. Even if you are going to continue as pro se, come in and have a free initial consultation with our attorneys in Fort Lauderdale or West Palm Beach. We can get you on the right track and offer sound legal advice, or offer you options for legal representation to guarantee your best outcome.

Published by
Chad Van Horn

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