- verify your identity
- ask you questions under oath about the accuracy of your bankruptcy petition and schedules, and
- give you the opportunity to tell the trustee about any changes that have occurred since you filed your documents.
Creditors also have the right to ask questions about your financial affairs but rarely do. If you have a straightforward case, the entire process will likely take less than ten minutes.
Finding Out About the 341 Meeting of Creditors
You’ll learn about the meeting date a week or so after you file for bankruptcy. The court will mail you a notice that includes the date, time, and location of the meeting, as well as your bankruptcy case number and the name of the bankruptcy trustee.
Preparing for the 341 Meeting of Creditors
You’ll use the information in the 341 meeting notice to complete necessary tasks both before and after the meeting. It’s a good idea to keep it somewhere easily accessible.
Here are the next steps.
- Make arrangements to attend the meeting. The meeting will occur approximately 21 to 40 days after your filing date. Although you can reschedule, it’s best to keep your calendar open during that period and make arrangements with your employer and childcare provider as soon as you receive the official date.
- Send the 521 documents to the trustee. Bankruptcy law requires you to give the trustee documents, called “521 documents,” at least seven days before the meeting. You’ll provide the last two tax returns that you’ve filed, as well as 60 days’ worth of bank statements and paycheck stubs. Be aware that many trustees require additional documents, too. Find more in What Documents Do I Give to the Bankruptcy Trustee Before the 341 Meeting of Creditors in Bankruptcy?
- Complete your post-filing counseling course. All bankruptcy filers must complete two bankruptcy courses—a credit-counseling course before filing and a debtor education course after you file. You’ll need your bankruptcy case number to complete the post-filing course (it’s in the 341 hearing notice).
Attending the 341 Meeting of Creditors
Many debtors worry about the meeting, but there’s little reason to worry. Most people breeze right through.
Here’s what you can expect the trustee to do:
- examine approximately ten debtors during the same hour (yours won’t be the only case)
- start the meeting by taking roll call
- explain the process to the entire group
- call each bankruptcy case to the front individually
- ask to see your drivers’ license and Social Security card (the trustee will accept other forms of proof, as well), and
- place you under oath.
341 Hearing Questioning by the Trustee
The trustee will start by asking a series of general questions about:
- the accuracy of your bankruptcy filing
- whether any information that you previously reported has changed, and
- whether you’re entitled to receive any money from any source.
The trustee will also ask about specific issues raised by your petition, or ask you to provide additional documentation. If you file a Chapter 13 case, it’s common for the trustee to have questions about your three- to five-year repayment plan, too.
You can find out more in What Questions Will the Bankruptcy Trustee Ask at the 341 Meeting of Creditors?
341 Hearing Questioning by a Creditor
Creditors have the right to appear at the meeting and ask you questions about your finances and bankruptcy filing. Here’s a list of common reasons a creditor might attend the meeting:
- An ex-spouse wants support arrearages paid or claims that you failed to report earnings or property (the trustee must pay support arrearages before other unsecured creditors).
- A secured creditor wants to know whether you intend to return property that you pledged as collateral, such as jewelry or furniture.
- A creditor suspects that you committed fraud and wants to gather information before suing you.
- A former business partner doesn’t agree with your disclosures about income, property, or something else.
Although the above list isn’t inclusive, it’s unnecessary to worry that a lender might unexpectedly appear at the meeting. Most people know when they have a problem on their hands. So, if you’re not aware of any issues, you probably don’t have any.
Concluding the 341 Meeting of Creditors
Most people get through the 341 meeting of creditors without incident. If you do the following things (and your petition complies with bankruptcy law), it’s likely that your meeting will proceed smoothly, as well:
- carefully prepare your petition, and
- produce your 521 documents two weeks before the meeting.
Although it’s unnecessary to give the trustee documents such as bank statements early, the trustee will appreciate it—and you want the trustee to be happy. If you’re not comfortable with any of the steps outlined above or with appearing at the meeting by yourself, you should consult with a local bankruptcy attorney.