Everything About 341 Meeting Of Creditors
Today, we’re going to talk a little bit about what happens at 341 meeting in a bankruptcy. Hi, my name’s 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 seven or chapter thirteen, 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? So 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, so to speak, review your qualifications and 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, 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. Now, 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, the ones that you hear about on every corner at the bank of such and such or so and so credit card. In those instances, the creditor’s attorney is 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 a smaller creditors or even individuals, who for whatever reason, may have some sort of obligation. And a lot of times are locked into more contentious litigation leading up to the bankruptcy, and may have indeed caused the bankruptcy all together. Now, in those situation, the creditors may be more involved. They have a right to ask certain amounts of questions. Now generally, the questioning in a 341 meeting, shouldn’t be 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 bankruptcy petition, you’re providing disclosures about what’s coming in, or much do you make, what’s going out, what are your expenses? What do you owe? Who are your different creditors? And what’s the 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 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 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. What to bring with you. Now, this is the important part.
Two most important things to bring with you at 341 meeting, are going to be your driver’s license and social security card. If you’ve done it right before the 341 meeting, you would have provided the trustee with financial disclosures, 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.
At 341 meeting itself. Usually, there are several different filers 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 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 generally going to be in a federal building with an open almost classroom looking room for attendance.
In most 341 meetings that trustee me 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. 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, if you will, a chapter seven case, the 341 meeting questions lasts for anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes.
For more complicated case, it can go longer, maybe 10 to 30 minutes for cases with the most complexity, particularly if there’s someone who owns a business who has filed for the business itself that is filed. Sometimes the 341 meeting can go for half an hour or several hours. Again, usually, it’s just the chapter seven trustee is going to be asking questions, but many instances, 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 them in chapter seven case the trustee may have some questions about that if there’s any pending litigation. So for example, if the filer is in different lawsuit. The trustee may ask some questions about that lawsuit. At the conclusion of the questions, sometimes the trustee will say, they’re going to hold the meeting open. That means they need some additional documents or information before the filer’s obligation to 341 meetings over.
Otherwise, the trustee will say that the meeting is included and that will be the end of that step.
341 Meeting 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. There is a pre-filing class that has to be completed before your bankruptcy is even filed. 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 that time.
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, 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 or 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 Take Place?
The 341 meeting takes place between 20 and 40 days after the case has been filed.
Who Will All 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. They may also ask questions about the debtor’s financial situation, both at the time of filing and in the years leading up to filing. They may ask what caused the individual to file bankruptcy, or inquire about employment, certain debts, and certain assets. They may ask about 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 at 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 with this video and we do complimentary half-hour consultations.
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