by: Baran Bulkat, Attorney
If you file for bankruptcy relief, you must attend a mandatory hearing called the meeting of creditors (also called the 341 hearing). The purpose of this hearing is to allow the bankruptcy trustee and your creditors to examine you under oath about your financial affairs. Read on to learn more about what happens at the meeting of creditors.
What Is the Meeting of Creditors?
The meeting of creditors is a hearing designed to let the trustee and your creditors ask you questions under oath about the information in your bankruptcy paperwork. But despite its name, creditors rarely come to the meeting of creditors.
Most meetings of creditors are short hearings where the trustee asks you to verify the information disclosed in the bankruptcy and clarify any questions he or she has about your income, expenses, or assets.
Where Is the Meeting of Creditors?
Once you file your case, the court will mail you (and your creditors) a notice regarding the time and location of your meeting of creditors. There is no judge at the 341 hearing so it will not be held in a courtroom. Most 341 hearings are held in meeting rooms in office buildings.
What Should You Bring With You?
You must prove your identity and social security number at the meeting of creditors. As a result, bring a valid photo ID (such as a driver’s license) and your social security card to the hearing. If you can’t find your social security card, most trustees will accept an original document (such as a W-2) containing your social security number or a tax return prepared by a third party.
In addition, you should have a copy of your bankruptcy paperwork and the supporting documentation you were required to send to the trustee prior to the 341 hearing. This will allow you to use these documents as a reference when answering questions or provide an additional copy to the trustee if necessary.
What Happens When You Get There?
There are usually several meetings of creditors scheduled for each hour. In most cases, you will wait in the meeting room with other debtors until your name is called. Once your name is called, you will go up to the trustee’s desk to be examined. Keep in mind that these are public hearings so other debtors will be observing your hearing while waiting for their turn.
Commonly Asked Questions at the Meeting of Creditors
Each trustee will have his or own unique way of examining debtors. As a result, the exact questions you may be asked will vary depending on who your trustee is. However, below is a list of the commonly asked questions at the meeting of creditors:
- Did you review and sign your bankruptcy paperwork?
- Is everything in your bankruptcy papers correct to the best of your knowledge?
- Did you list all your property and assets?
- Did you list all of your obligations?
- Have you filed for bankruptcy before?
- Any changes since you filed the case?
- Do you have an obligation to pay alimony or child support?
- Have you filed all required tax returns?
- Have you made any property transfers prior to filing your case?
- Did you put new charges on any credit cards in the last year?
- How did you come up with the value of your assets?
- Do you own a business or partnership?
- Are your cars insured?
What Happens After the Meeting of Creditors?
If the trustee has no further questions, he or she will conclude the hearing. If the trustee needs more information, the hearing will be continued to a different date so you can gather the necessary documents and send them to the trustee. In general, what happens after the meeting of creditors will vary depending on whether you filed for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy and how the hearing went.