What Happens at a 341 Meeting of Creditors
Most bankruptcy trustees will have very similar introductory questions, regardless of the chapter of bankruptcy filed. The trustee will be looking for assets that you may have failed to disclose in your petition. If everything goes smoothly at your 341 Hearing, your only remaining step is to complete your second credit counseling course in a Chapter 7. You must complete it within 60 days of your 341, and your case will be eligible for discharge at the end of the 60 day period. If you file Chapter 13, you will also need to complete a second credit counseling course after your 341. You will also need to attend a plan confirmation (which may be held before your 341 Hearing) and complete your payment plan before your case is eligible for discharge.
FAQ’s Frequently Asked 341 Meeting of Creditors Questions
A 341 Hearing is a Meeting of Creditors, where the trustee and potentially your creditors will ask questions about your bankruptcy petition. 314 Hearings are mandatory across all chapters of bankruptcy. Compared to other legal proceedings, 341 hearings are short and simple. Your creditors will also have 60 days after the 341 hearing to bring a claim for your case.
341 Hearings got their name from the law that makes them mandatory in bankruptcy- Section 341 of the bankruptcy code.
Creditors that are large corporations, such as credit card companies, are less likely to appear at your 341 hearing. Smaller creditors with more personal relationships may appear, like landlords and family members who lent the filer money. Your attorney should be able to review your creditor matrix and determine which are most likely to attend your hearing.
You will need to bring your driver’s license (or other government-issued photo identification) and your social security card with you to your 341. If you have misplaced your social security card, you will need to bring an original copy of your W2. Your trustee may also request that you bring additional financial documents with you to your 341 if you are unable to submit them beforehand. Failure to bring all the necessary documents could result in your 341 being continued. The courts are reluctant to grant continuances, and too many could end in your case being dismissed.
Your hearing will be scheduled to last 30 minutes. There will be other people scheduled at the same time as you, so you will need to wait unless you are the first one called. When it is actually your turn, the trustee’s questions shouldn’t take longer than 5 minutes.
Your attorney will be present at your 341 with you to guide you through answering the trustee’s questions and to address any objections made by your creditors, if applicable. If you are represented by an attorney, the trustee won’t proceed with your 341 Hearing until your attorney is present.
Usually, your 341 hearing will be held approximately 30-45 days after you file your petition. However, the coronavirus pandemic has caused court delays that may continue for the coming months. You should receive a letter giving you your court date approximately 10-15 days after you file, which may be slightly delayed as well.
Yes. Except for in extremely rare circumstances, your case can’t be discharged if you haven’t attended your 341 hearing. Unlike in many other legal proceedings, your attorney can’t appear at your 341 on your behalf. The trustee may agree to hear your case telephonically if you appear for the call in the local trustee’s office of whatever area you are now in. Discharge with absolutely no 341 attendance can only be granted in cases of extreme hardship.
10 Things to Know About 341 Hearings
Sample Questions Your Bankruptcy Trustee May Ask
- Did you sign the bankruptcy petition?
- Did you review all of the information in your petition before signing?
- Did you include all of your assets in your schedules?
- Is all of the information in your schedules true and correct, to the best of your knowledge?
- Do you wish to make any changes to your petition? (You should amend your petition before the 341 Meeting if this is the case.)
- Have you ever filed bankruptcy in the past?
- What is the reason you decided to file bankruptcy?
- Have you repaid a debt to family or friends in the last six months/one year?
- Have you transferred any properties to a friend or family member in the past two years?
- Are you waiting for proceeds from a settlement for a personal injury claim such as a car accident or a slip and fall case?
- Is there anyone holding property on your behalf?
- What is your hourly or yearly salary?
- Have you filed all of your tax returns for the past four years?
- Are you behind on any child support or other familial obligations? What will your payments for familial obligations be in the future?
Some of these questions should be familiar to you from your initial bankruptcy consultation with your attorney. Your attorney will advise you of which questions are most likely to be asked based on the facts of your case.
Things Not to Do At Your 341 Meeting of Creditors
- Don’t wear extravagant clothing or assets not listed on your petition. While there is a bankruptcy exemption for wedding rings, leave your Tiffany necklace and Louis Vuitton purse at home if you own them. On the other hand, this is a serious event and you should try to dress at least business casual as a sign of respect for the legal professionals involved and your fellow bankruptcy petitioners.
- Don’t forget your forms of identification: Don’t bring expired forms of identification, either. You will be turned away from your hearing for your case at best to be continued, and at worst be dismissed.
- Don’t be argumentative with the trustee. It is the trustee’s job to ask you questions about your petition and your financial situation in general. Your trustee has probably seen a thousand cases with facts similar to yours, and yours is probably far from the worst case they’ve ever seen. Don’t become someone the trustee remembers.
- Don’t go on a tangent when answering the trustee’s questions: Not only does this waste the time of everyone in attendance, but you may say something that could potentially damage or delay your case by causing the trustee to investigate further. Stick to answering only the question the trustee asks, and stop talking once you have answered the question.
- Don’t complain about the general concept of a 341 to your trustee: It may have been hard to find parking, or get through security, or you may believe that you shouldn’t have to attend a hearing to have your debts discharged at all. Save those complaints for your local policymakers who advocate for changes to bankruptcy legislation.
- Don’t bring distractions with you: Find someone to look after your children during your 341 hearing, and leave your cell phone at home if you struggle to remember to keep it on silent. Set your phone to airplane mode before your hearing if you aren’t able to leave it at home. Don’t bring food or drinks- your hearing shouldn’t last more than 30 minutes, it can wait.