After your bankruptcy case is filed, your case is assigned to a judge and a trustee. You’ll soon receive an important notice from the bankruptcy court, giving you a date, time and place of your Meeting of Creditors, but what is it and how do you prepare?
What is a 341(a) meeting of creditors?
The meeting of creditors is a hearing all debtors must attend in any bankruptcy proceeding. It is held outside of the presence of the judge and usually occurs between 20 and 40 days after the filing of the petition. In chapter 7, 12, and 13 cases, the trustee assigned to the case conducts the meeting. In a chapter 11 case, a representative of the United States Trustee’s Office conducts the meeting.
The meeting permits the trustee or the representative of the U.S. Trustee to review the debtor’s petition and schedules with the debtor. The debtor is required to answer questions under penalty of perjury (swearing or affirming to tell the truth) about the debtor’s conduct, property, liabilities, financial condition, and any other matter that may affect the administration of the case or the debtor’s right to discharge. In addition, the trustee or U.S. Trustee’s representative will ask questions to ensure that the debtor understands the bankruptcy process.
The meeting is referred to as a meeting of creditors because creditors are notified that they may attend and ask the debtor questions pertaining to assets or any other matter pertinent to the administration of the case. It is also referred to as a 341 meeting because it is mandated by Section 341 of the Bankruptcy Code. Creditors are not required to attend these meetings and do not waive any rights if they do not attend. The meeting usually lasts only about ten to fifteen minutes and may be continued if the trustee or U.S. Trustee’s representative is not satisfied with the information presented.
If the debtor fails to appear and provide the information requested, the trustee or U.S. Trustee’s representative may request that the case be dismissed, or may seek other relief against the debtor for failure to cooperate. If the case involves spouses filing jointly, both spouses must appear at the meeting of creditors.
How to prepare for your 341(a) meeting of creditors
- WHAT TO BRING: Valid government issued Identification; Social Security Card; and last filed tax returns.
- BE ON TIME. Better yet, arrive early. In the back of the room, on the wall there is usually a calendar posted where you can find your name. This information will tell you how many people will be heard before you.
- Next, grab a GREEN SHEET (pamphlet) in your preferred language and READ IT.
- If you don’t have an attorney, you may be required to fill out an additional form. Look for it on one of the tables.
- Have a seat and wait for further instructions from your Trustee.
Remember that the trustee’s job in Chapter 7 is to look for assets (what you own) that they can take to pay your creditors. This hearing is your sworn testimony that what you said in your bankruptcy papers is true, correct and accurate because those papers were signed under penalty of perjury. If you have a lawyer and have questions about this important part of the process, you should direct them to your lawyer. Attorney fees should include representation at your hearing.