341(a) Meeting of Creditors
Understanding the Meeting and How To Prepare For It
When you decide to file for bankruptcy, one of the thoughts you instantly get is “Will I have to go to court”?
In most of the bankruptcy cases you will not be obligated to go to court, but you will definitely attend the so called 341 Hearing.
The purpose of this hearing is for you to confirm and answer all the information about your bankruptcy case. The 341 Hearing is a meeting of creditors, not a court hearing. It is run by your bankruptcy Trustee and usually held in a meeting room.
Take a look at the characteristics of this meeting so you can be prepared and informed about it in advance.
Chapter 13 Meeting
Chapter 13 Meeting is the perfect opportunity for you to explain in detail your proposed repayment plan and for the Chapter 13 Trustee to ask you questions about your plan, finances, assets and payments.
Before the 341 Meeting, your Trustee will review all the paperwork you filed, your bankruptcy petition, and your schedules showing your assets, debts, income, and expenses. Also, he will review your Statement of Financial Affairs and your Chapter 13 plan.
In a Chapter 13 case, the 341 meeting will be set for at least 21 days, but no more than 50 days after the day you file your case.
- What questions to expect at Your Chapter 13 Meeting of Creditors
When the Chapter 13 Trustee calls your case, you will sit at a table with your attorney so the Trustee can question you. If any of your creditors or their attorneys are in attendance, they will sit at the table with you. Your Trustee will ask the following questions:
- Did you read the schedules before signing?
- Did you list all of your assets?
- Did you list all of your debts?
- Are the schedules accurate?
- Do you want to make any corrections to the schedules?
- Have you lived in this state for the past two years?
- Do you owe anyone domestic support?
- Are your cars insured?
- Have you destroyed your credit cards?
When the Trustee finishes with his questions, the creditors can ask you questions about the payment plan. Creditors appearing at the 341 Meeting in a Chapter 13 case are uncommon. Usually, they simply file objections to your plan and try to resolve those with you through your attorney and the court.
In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, in addition to concluding or continuing your meeting of creditors, the Trustee can also try to dismiss your case at your confirmation hearing in front of the bankruptcy judge.
Chapter 7 Meeting
If you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must attend the meeting of creditors. This meeting is governed by a Chapter 7 Trustee. The Trustee will try to sell non-exempt property to repay general unsecured creditors. The Trustee also looks for bankruptcy fraud, makes sure your paperwork is accurate, and conducts an investigation into your property and your finances.
Before the 341 Hearing the Trustee will review your paperwork, debts, income, previous federal tax returns and financial transactions.
Be sure to bring your ID and proof of your social security number to the meeting.
Typical documents a Chapter 7 Trustee may require you to bring to your 341 meeting include:
- Copies of recorded mortgage documents
- Property deeds
- Bank statements
- Tax returns
- Pay stubs
The Trustee acts on behalf of the unsecured creditors and he will want to make sure that your schedules provide accurate information about how much your property is worth.
Typical questions include:
- Why you are filing bankruptcy?
- Did you list all your property in your schedules and have you listed accurate values?
- Whether you have repaid any of your creditors within the three months prior to your bankruptcy.
- Whether you have repaid any relatives or close friends in the last year?
- Did you transfer money in the past years?
- Whether you own or have ever owned a business
- Whether your income is accurate in your schedules and on your means test.
- Whether you owe child support, alimony, or any other domestic support.
- Whether your monthly expenses are necessary and reasonable.
When the Trustee finishes with questions, he will conclude the meeting. But, if there is creditors present, then the Trustee will allow them to ask you questions.
If you filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the bankruptcy Trustee will typically either conclude your hearing or continue it to another date if he or she requires more information or documentation from you.
If the bankruptcy Trustee has no further questions and is satisfied with the information provided in your bankruptcy papers and supporting documentation, he or she will conclude your meeting of creditors. This means that you don’t need to appear at another hearing in front of the bankruptcy Trustee.
If the Trustee needs more information or supporting documentation from you, he or she will usually continue the meeting of creditors to another date. If your hearing is continued, you will need to follow the Trustee’s instructions and provide him or her with the requested information prior to your next hearing.
Be prepared and keep in mind all the requirements needed for the Meeting 341 to be completed in your favor.
Preparing For Your 341 Creditor Meeting
You have successfully filed your Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 bankruptcy papers and are now wondering what’s next. Approximately twenty to forty days after filing and paying the court filing fees, the bankruptcy court will schedule a meeting of the creditors. The first meeting of the creditors allows the bankruptcy trustee and your creditors to question you under oath about your financial affairs and the petition you submitted. First and foremost, the creditors meeting should not be rescheduled unless you have a valid reason, such as a medical emergency. Secondly, it is imperative that you come to the creditor meeting property prepared.
Preparing for the Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 meeting of creditors will require compiling all of your financial statements and reviewing your petition for any discrepancies or errors.
Prior to your first creditor meeting date you may receive correspondence from your bankruptcy trustee with their specific requirements. The Bankruptcy Trustee may request copies of the following documents in advance of the meeting or request that you produce them at the time of the meeting:
- Tax Returns
- Pay Stubs
- Bank and investment account statements
- Mortgage Statements
- Deeds to personal property and titles to vehicles and documents related to the transfer or sale thereof
- Trust documents
- Credit card statements
- Marital settlement agreements or divorce judgments
If you do not hear from your Bankruptcy Trustee prior to the meeting, it is wise to reach out to them directly and request their required documentation. You can also check the local bankruptcy rules for the required documentation.
Once you have compiled all of your financial paperwork, thoroughly review your petition to verify that all data has been correctly accounted for. Should you find any discrepancies or errors immediately notify your bankruptcy counsel. This will allow your counsel to submit an addendum to the petition which will clarify and correct the errors prior to the meeting and will hopefully avoid any delays that may have occurred as a result of the error.
Now that you have gathered and reviewed the information and feel fully prepared to answer the trustee and creditors questions, a few last details to remember…
- Bring proof of your identity (driver’s license, passport or birth certificate)
- Bring a copy of the documents you compiled as well as a copy of your petition for your reference
- Arrive on time or a little early; and
- Dress professionally