When you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you are required to attend a meeting of the creditors. This is also referred to as a 341 Hearing. During this meeting, you are not in front of a judge; instead, your bankruptcy trustee is present, along with creditors, to discuss your debt obligations. This meeting, however, is one of the biggest causes for concern for those filing for bankruptcy – but it doesn’t have to be. As long as you are prepared and have excellent counsel, the meeting is more of a formality than something to stress about.
Who Will Attend the Meeting?
Your meeting will have the trustee, your attorney, and yourself. While you may worry that creditors will show up at the meeting, in most cases, creditors never show. There are some instances where creditors will show up, but your attorney is present to walk you through meeting with them, and to ensure that the creditors follow the law. Regardless, you will need to answer the trustee’s questions truthfully.
Where is the Meeting?
You will be in a conference room with your attorney, and you will sit across from the trustee at a table or desk. The meeting itself is surprisingly short – usually less than 20 minutes. However, you may have to wait for a little while before the trustee calls your case. The meeting itself is less formal than an actual hearing – but you still should dress as though you were going to court.
The Purpose of a 341 Hearing
At the start of the meeting, the trustee will request documentation – including your driver’s license and Social Security card. You will then be sworn in, just as though you were in court. You will also answer a series of questions from the trustee related to information that your attorney presented in the petition, as well as any schedules and documents associated with your bankruptcy case.
The trustee is not there to trick you; instead, he or she is there to gather information. Your attorney is also there to counsel you on how to answer questions, and to make sure that nothing inappropriate is asked by the trustee. The trustee or creditors may have you bring in certain documents not required with the initial petition, such as:
- A recent pay stub;
- Your bank, retirement, and investment account statements;
- Documents that show any mortgage loan balances and auto loan balances;
- Valuations of your property and vehicles;
- Proof of insurance;
- Your most recent tax return.
After the Meeting
Once the meeting is over, the trustee may request additional information. If not, he or she will send the report to the judge, recommending discharge for Chapter 7 cases. If you have a Chapter 13 plan, then you will have a hearing with the judge – known as the confirmation hearing – to determine if the plan is approved.
Do You Need to File for Bankruptcy? Contact a Bankruptcy Attorney
If you need to file for bankruptcy, contact the attorneys at Hames, Anderson, Whitlow & O’Leary today. We can assist you with Chapter 7, 13, and even business bankruptcy. Schedule a consultation now by calling 509-586-7797 or filling out our online contact form with your legal questions.