341 hearing – meeting of creditors

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341 Hearing: Meeting of Creditors

What is the Purpose of a 341 Hearing?

A 341 Hearing is also referred to as a 341 Meeting of Creditors. This means, just as the title suggests, that your creditors have the opportunity to appear at this hearing. Any that choose to come can ask you questions about your bankruptcy petition. Your bankruptcy trustee will also be there to ask similar questions. 

How to Prepare for your 341 Hearing

If you have a bankruptcy attorney, they should be able to prepare you for the types of questions your bankruptcy trustee will ask. They will also be able to guess which creditors may actually appear at the hearing, based on the type of creditor and the attorney’s past experience. You need to prepare your defense if you believe any of your creditors will appear at the hearing and object to your debt to them being discharged.

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 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

ANSWER:

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. 

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ANSWER:

341 Hearings got their name from the law that makes them mandatory in bankruptcy- Section 341 of the bankruptcy code. 

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ANSWER:

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. 

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ANSWER:

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. 

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ANSWER:

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. 

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ANSWER:

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. 

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ANSWER:

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. 

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ANSWER:

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. 

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10 Things to Know About 341 Hearings

  • The 341 Hearing is mandatory: There are exceptions that can be granted in rare cases, but you should enter your case with the presumption that you will need to attend your 341 Hearing in person. Moving out of state, traveling, and failing to get time off work or find child care aren’t adequate excuses to miss your 341 hearing. Your case may be continued if you miss one 341 hearing, but it is highly unlikely that you will be granted a second continuance. 

  • Other bankruptcy filers will be scheduled at the same time as you: 341 Hearings are usually short and simple, taking no more than 5 minutes. For that reason, there may be as many as ten to twelve other bankruptcy petitioners scheduled for the same time as you. Be patient while you wait for your case to be called and respect the other petitioners’ privacy. 

  • You are required to verify your identity before your 341 hearing can begin: The very first thing the trustee will do is check your driver’s license and social security card. If you don’t have one or both of these forms of identification, ask your attorney for suggestions on alternative forms of identification. 

  • Most people don’t have creditors show up at their 341 hearing: Credit card companies, medical offices, and other common creditors are usually well-versed in how bankruptcy works. They know it isn’t worth their time to object to your debts to them being discharged, or may bring an objection after the hearing is held. Your creditors will have 60 days after the 341 hearing to bring a motion as they would have if they had attended in person. 

  • Your bankruptcy trustee will be at the 341, but not the judge: The trustee may file a motion for your case to be dismissed because of what happens in your 341 hearing. The judge, who would be the one to rule on that motion, won’t be present at your 341 hearing. 

  • You need to complete your second credit counseling course after your 341 hearing: You should be able to take this course online, and it should be similar in length and content to the first credit counseling class you took before your petition was filed. You will have a deadline of 60 days after the 341 hearing to complete this class and file the course certificate with the court.  

  • You must tell the truth at your 341 hearing: Lying during your 341 hearing is considered perjury. While it is more likely that you will face your case being dismissed for lying in your 341, it also carries the possibility of fines and jail time.  

  • The trustee may ask questions about your financial future: The trustee will ask you about sums you may receive in the future, like tax refunds, personal injury settlements, and inheritances. A portion of these proceeds may be seized and used to pay your creditors if you receive one of them in the period following your bankruptcy.

  • The trustee may ask you how your assets were valued: You will need to explain if you used a value estimation website like Zillow or Kelley Blue Book, hired an evaluator, or valued your assets in some other method. 

  • You will feel a sense of relief after your 341 hearing is completed: As many times as you read and are told that your 341 hearing won’t be too stressful, it is really hard to believe it until your 341 hearing is actually over. Now all you have to do is complete an online credit counseling course and wait for your case to be discharged, or complete your payment plan. 

     

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?

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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. 

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