Everything About 341 Meeting Of Creditors
What is A 341 Meeting?
Today, we’re going to talk a little bit about what happens at the 341 meeting in a bankruptcy. Hi, my name is Mike Ziegler and I’m the managing attorney for the Debt Fighters. We’re a law firm based in Clearwater, Florida that helps consumers overcome their debt problems. So after either chapter 7 or chapter 13 bankruptcy is filed. A few days later, you’ll get a notice about a 341 meeting, also known as the meeting of creditors.
So what is the 341 meeting and what can you expect there? Bankruptcy is an exchange process. And what that exchange process involves is that when someone files, they offer transparency about their financial situation; that transparency allows the court supervisors to review your qualifications. Likewise it allows your creditors to review your qualifications and your commitments to the bankruptcy process. The 341 meeting is an opportunity for the trustee, who is like a case manager, to ask the filer questions in person, so that they can complete their obligation to perform diligence on your situation and fill in any gaps they may have or questions they may have about your situation.
Now, in most consumer cases, creditors don’t attend the 341 meeting, even though it’s called the meeting of creditors. In probably 95, if not 98% of cases, no creditors actually attend. It’s only going to be the trustee that will be asked some questions to verify your financial situation. In those rare instances where creditors do attend, there’s two different types of scenarios. There’s creditors that are there on behalf of usually more institutional creditors. In those instances, the creditor’s attorney is often attending just as part of their procedure for reviewing a bankruptcy case, but they aren’t as emotionally invested in trying to elicit information.
Where creditor involvement can get more complicated is where you have smaller creditors or even individuals. In those situations, the creditors are more likely to be actively involved. They have a right to ask certain amounts of questions. Generally, the questioning in a 341 meeting isn’t too extensive. If a creditor has a desire to request a more thorough amount of information, there can be a supplemental meeting. That’s usually called the 2004 examination that may take place.
Preparing For 341 Meeting
So in a bankruptcy petition, you’re providing disclosures about what’s coming in, or how much money do you make, what’s going out, what are your expenses, what do you owe, who are your different creditors, and what stuff that you have. And again, it’s going to be primarily those topics that they’re going to want to learn a little bit more about at the 341 meeting.
Time wise, the 341 meeting is held about 45 days after the case has been filed. While in some instances a 341 meeting can be rescheduled, that is pretty exceptional and it’s going to be on a case by case depending on your trustee and the judge that’s assigned to your case. So you really want to do your best to clear your calendar and make it there.
Now what to bring with you? This is the important part. The two most important things to bring with you to the 341 meeting are going to be your driver’s license and social security card. If you’ve done things correctly before the 341 meeting, you would have already provided the trustee with financial disclosures, which are things like tax returns, proof of income, and bank statements, because the trustee is going to want to assess that information before your meeting takes place.
Usually, at the 341 meeting itself, there are several filers (other people that are also going through bankruptcy) that are scheduled for each half hour. So you could be called up anytime in that timeframe. It is a little bit uncomfortable for those other filers. I’ll tell you for most folks that we work with, the 341 meeting may be the only time they’ve come to anything near a court hearing. Now this is a little bit different than a regular court hearing because there’s not going to be a judge there. In general, you’re not going to be in a formal courtroom. It’s usually going to be in a federal building with an open room that looks more like a classroom.
In most 341 meetings that trustee is situated at the front of the room at a desk. The filer will come to the front of the room and sit adjacent to the trustee at the desk. If the filer has an attorney, the attorney will also be seated at the desk, but most of the questions will go directly to the filer because it’s the filer’s testimony. That’s important in order to complete the 341 process. The trustee will ask some questions, again, verifying the same information that was put into the petition. Usually for a “normal” chapter seven case, the 341 meeting questions last for anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes.
For more complicated cases, it can go longer. It may take 10 to 30 minutes for cases with the most complexity, particularly if there’s someone who owns a business and has filed bankruptcy for that business. Sometimes the 341 meeting can go for half an hour or several hours. Again, usually, it’s just the chapter seven trustee who is going to be asking questions, but in some cases, creditors or other participants in the bankruptcy process may ask questions as well.
In some instances for an asset case, meaning a situation where the filer might have more things than what they’re allowed to keep in a chapter seven case, the trustee may have some questions about those assets if there’s any pending litigation. For example, if the filer is in a different lawsuit, the trustee may ask some questions about that lawsuit. At the conclusion of the questions, sometimes the trustee will say that they’re going to hold the meeting open. That means they need some additional documents or information before the filer’s obligation to the 341 meeting is over.
Otherwise, the trustee will say that the meeting is concluded and that will be the end of that step.
341 Meeting Frequently Asked Questions:
Is a 341 meeting held for all types of bankruptcies?
A 341 meeting is held for chapter 7 and chapter 13 cases.
Do I need to complete all the required courses prior to the 341 meeting?
There are two courses for consumer filers. The first is a pre-filing class that has to be completed before your bankruptcy is even filed. Secondly, there is also a post-filing class, which does not have to be completed before the 341 meeting, but it should be completed promptly after your bankruptcy has been filed.
What actually takes place at the 341 Meeting Of Creditors?
In summary, the trustee will first confirm the identity and address of the participant so that they know that you’re getting the notices that are important for the case. They will go through the information that has been submitted for the case to learn a little bit about who you are, the things that you have, whether or not you’re working, and whether or not your income corresponds to the income that’s been disclosed in the case. They will potentially inquire as to financial information that may be relevant to the case, such as transfers (the sale) of important assets.
If a bankruptcy filer has non-exempt property (meaning property that they are not allowed to keep in the bankruptcy), then the trustee may have a dialogue with the bankruptcy filer to see what their intent is with those assets. Sometimes there can be some case-specific questions that the trustee, the creditors, or the United States trustee may have for the bankruptcy filer.
At what point in the bankruptcy process does the 341 Meeting of Creditors take place?
The 341 meeting usually takes place between 20 and 45 days after the case has been filed.
Who will be present at the 341 Meeting?
The bankruptcy filer would be present and, if they are represented by an attorney, then their attorney would also be present. However, the questions are directed toward the filers, not the attorney. In all instances, the chapter 7 trustee would be present. In some instances, a United States trustee and the creditors would be present as well.
What questions should I expect the trustee to ask at the 341 Meeting?
The trustee may ask a variety of questions to confirm the information that’s in the petition, such as:
- Questions about the debtor’s financial situation, both at the time of filing and in the years leading up to filing
- What caused the individual to file bankruptcy or inquire about employment, certain debts, and certain assets
- Transfers leading up to the bankruptcy and any businesses that the bankruptcy filer owns.
What happens after the 341 Meeting is completed?
After the 341 meeting is complete, the trustee may have some follow-up arrangements to make with the filer if there is property that the filer is required to turn over. The filer should complete their second credit counseling class if they’ve not already done so. There may be some other requests from the trustee with respect to the case but notwithstanding any complexities. At that point, the next step is to allow the appropriate waiting periods to go by until the bankruptcy discharge.
Additional Information Regarding 341 Meeting Of Creditors
Filing for bankruptcy can be a very nerve-wracking experience. Most filers have little exposure to the court system, and for many individuals, the 341 meeting is the closest they get to a legal hearing. I compare the 341 meeting to going to the doctor’s office to get a shot; oftentimes the expectation leading up to the meeting is much scarier than the meeting itself. The meeting usually lasts for about 10 minutes. It is a little uncomfortable because it is a public hearing, so there will be other individuals in the room who are waiting for their own meeting, but it will be over before you know it.
If you have other questions, and if you’re not otherwise represented by an attorney about the bankruptcy process, please feel free to schedule a consultation with us. Our Calendly link is going to be included alongside this video and we do complimentary half-hour consultations.
Are you a Florida resident that has questions about your prospective bankruptcy? Are you questioning whether bankruptcy is even the right option for you? Our goal is to take a strategic approach to debt problem solving. What makes us different is that we aren’t just bankruptcy attorneys, but we look holistically at bankruptcy debt consolidation, debt litigation, and other alternatives. Click on the Calendly link below to schedule a complimentary 30 minute consultation and let’s see if we can develop a strategy that’s in your best interest.
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