By: Crystal Thornton-Illar Esq.
The Meeting of Creditors, or the 341 Meeting, adeptly named after Section 341 of the Bankruptcy Code, is the only hearing most consumer debtors must attend when filing bankruptcy. Many debtors are understandably apprehensive about this hearing, but knowing exactly what to expect helps most people feel more prepared and less anxious.
The Meeting of Creditors is conducted by a bankruptcy trustee, usually a lawyer appointed to administer the bankruptcy case. The Meeting of Creditors is a much less formal proceeding than a hearing conducted by a judge in a courtroom. The principal purpose of the Meeting of Creditors is to provide the bankruptcy trustee with the opportunity to ask the debtor questions and confirm under oath that the information provided in the debtor’s bankruptcy petition, schedules, and statement of financial affairs is accurate.
The location of the Meeting of Creditors varies depending on the location of the debtor’s residence and the chapter filed. Meetings of Creditors are normally held in meeting or conference rooms. Shortly after the bankruptcy case is filed, the court will issue a notice setting the date, time, and location of the Meeting of Creditors. Further, our office follows up with all of our clients to ensure they are aware of the date, time, and location of this hearing.
All creditors listed in the bankruptcy schedules will receive notice of Meeting of Creditors and are permitted to attend and ask the debtor questions. However, creditors rarely attend. In fact, the only people who attend a typical Meeting of Creditors are the bankruptcy trustee, the debtor, and the debtor’s counsel.
Prior to the Meeting of Creditors, we ask that our clients review their bankruptcy petition, schedules, and statement of financial affairs, and let us know if there are any omissions, inaccuracies, or changes. We also ask that all our clients bring the following with them to the Meeting of Creditors: 1) photo identification; 2) social security card; 3) all pay stubs received from the date of filing through the date of the Meeting of Creditors; 4) the most recent bank, retirement, and/or other financial statements; and 5) proof of insurance for any real property and/or vehicles owned by the debtor.
At the beginning of the Meeting of Creditors, the bankruptcy trustee will ask to see the debtor’s photo identification and social security card. The bankruptcy trustee will then administer an oath to the debtor and ask questions related to the information provided in the debtor’s petition, schedules, and statement of financial affairs, as well as other documents that were provided to the bankruptcy trustee, such as tax returns and pay stubs. Our office also provides all of our clients with a sample list of questions that are routinely asked. Most debtors find that answering the bankruptcy trustee’s questions is easier when expected. Typically, the entire hearing takes less than ten minutes.
After the hearing, debtors should complete the Financial Management/Debtor Education course if they have not already done so. In most cases, there is nothing else for a debtor to do except wait for the discharge to arrive in the mail. As long as there are no objections to discharge, the discharge will be issued approximately 60 days from the date of the Meeting of Creditors. Most consumer bankruptcy cases will also be closed shortly after the discharge is entered.
Leech Tishman is prepared to help you navigate through the Meeting of Creditors as well as the rest of the bankruptcy process. Give us a call to set up your free consultation.