What is a 341 Meeting?
In most bankruptcy cases, there are few if any hearings, few if any depositions and the process for you the consumer is relatively hassle free. However, there is one meeting that almost every consumer will have to attend if they want to obtain their bankruptcy discharge: The 341 meeting of creditors, often simply known as a “341 meeting.”
341 Meeting Basics
A 341 meeting is usually scheduled a few weeks from the date that you file your bankruptcy paperwork and schedules. The meeting is often run by the bankruptcy trustee; the judge is not present at the meeting. The bankruptcy trustee is not a judge, but rather a representative of creditors.
In many cases, the meeting may not even be in a courthouse or courtroom. Depending on your city, the meeting may be in a conference room or some other office.
Preparing for the 341 Meeting
The 341 meeting is, in most cases, relatively short. The bankruptcy trustee will have looked over all of your paperwork before the meeting. Some of the questions that the trustee will ask you are standard, asked of all consumers, others may be specific to your paperwork and financial situation.
The key to answering the trustee’s questions the right way is twofold. First, make sure that the documents and information that you provided to the bankruptcy court is full, complete, truthful and accurate. Most people who run into trouble with the simple questions at the 341 meeting do so because they have not been forthcoming with all of the information on their bankruptcy paperwork.
The other key is to have a bankruptcy attorney who can prepare you for the questions you can expect to be asked, so that you are comfortable with them.
The trustee is simply there to get information. He or she is not there to trip you up, or fool you. Of course, the trustee’s job is to discover assets that you may have that would be available to your creditors. However, if you have prepared your paperwork correctly, and discussed your financial situation with your attorney before filing, you should already know whether you have assets that could be taken or not.
Creditors at the Meeting
Creditors also have the right to attend 341 meetings and even question you. However, in reality, they rarely do. With a larger creditor having potentially tens of thousands of creditors filing bankruptcy every day, they simply do not attend every single 341 meeting.
The only time you can expect attendance and questioning by creditors is if you have done something to clearly indicate a fraud, such as charging up a credit card right before bankruptcy. Additionally, creditors may be present in cases where debtors make a significant income, or where a large amount of debt is being discharged—but even then, creditor attendance at 341 meetings is relatively rare.