Section 341 of the bankruptcy code states, “Within a reasonable time after the order for relief in a case under this title, the United States trustee shall convene and preside at a meeting of creditors.” This meeting of creditors, also known as the ‘341 meeting’ due to its location in the bankruptcy lawbooks, is where you will meet the trustee who is administering your bankruptcy case.
You’ll also meet your creditors, should they choose to attend (most don’t). Although it’s normal to feel nervous about this meeting, most of our clients will say afterwards that it wasn’t as big of a deal as they feared.
You will have already prepared for the meeting with your bankruptcy attorney, who attends the meeting with you. What’s more, the typical 341 meeting only lasts for five to ten minutes.
What to Expect at the 341 Meeting
Your 341 meeting will be scheduled about a month after you file. Although it may take place in a federal building, it will most likely be in a meeting room rather than a courtroom. Your bankruptcy judge will not be there.
The trustee will have already reviewed your forms and financial records, and he or she will ask you to verify your identity, assets, and income. You’ll need to bring your photo ID and proof of your social security number.
Questions You’ll be Asked
At the 341 meeting, you’ll take an oath that you will answer all questions honestly. Then, the trustee will ask you some standard questions, including:
- Whether the information in your bankruptcy forms is accurate and complete
- Whether your bankruptcy forms are signed
- Whether you have ever filed for bankruptcy in the past
With the mandatory standard questions out of the way, the trustee will probably ask you about the specifics of your bankruptcy. Your bankruptcy lawyer will be able to help you predict and prepare for these questions.
You might expect the trustee to ask you:
- If you own real estate or a car
- If you anticipate receiving an inheritance
- What your job is and how much you make
- Whether you have bank or investment accounts
- Whether you run a business
- If you have made large monetary gifts to others in the past year (in some circumstances, the trustee can take back the money and use it to repay your creditors)
Despite its being called a meeting of creditors, it’s rare for creditors to actually attend the 341 meeting. If any of your creditors do show up, it will be for a very specific reason.
For example, a lender of a secured loan (such as a car loan) may come to figure out whether you intend to pay back the loan or return the car. Creditors might also attend if they believe you are hiding nonexempt assets.
If in attendance, your creditors may ask you questions like:
- Where you work and how much you make
- Where you worked and how much you made at the time you took out the loan
- If your income has changed since you took out the loan
- Whether you have transferred any property or assets to friends and family
- Whether the information you put on your credit applications was accurate
- Whether you ever intended to pay off your debt
- If there are discrepancies between the information you gave them when applying for credit and your true financial situation
Answer Truthfully, or Your Answers Could be Used Against You
Although a 341 meeting isn’t a legal hearing, you are required to answer the questions under oath. The entire proceeding will be recorded and transcribed. Even if they don’t attend, your creditors are allowed to request a transcript of your testimony. If you contradict yourself, your creditors may try to convince the judge that you are a liar, using the transcript as proof.
Consult with a Bankruptcy Attorney Before Your 341 Meeting
A qualified bankruptcy lawyer is your trusted ally throughout the bankruptcy process. We’ll help you complete the bankruptcy forms and gather the appropriate financial documents, and we’ll help you prepare for your 341 meeting.
With decades of experience helping the residents of St. Louis and Southern Illinois through bankruptcies, we have the expertise to predict what questions you will be asked in the 341 meeting. Call A Bankruptcy Law Firm, LLC now for your confidential and free initial consultation.