The meeting of creditors, also called the 341 hearing (because it is required by section 341 of the Bankruptcy Code), is where you meet with the trustee (not the judge) in your bankruptcy case. Creditors may attend as well, although often none will appear. The trustee will ask you a series of questions. Most 341 hearings last less than 5 or 10 minutes.
The Role of the Trustee
The trustee is the person (often, but not always, a lawyer) responsible for administering your bankruptcy estate. The trustee’s job is to make sure that your creditors get paid as much as possible. In order to do this, the trustee wants to ensure that you didn’t leave any assets or property off your bankruptcy papers and that your reported income is accurate. The trustee will also try to find out if you have any claims that the trustee can pursue to get more money for your creditors. To learn more about the job of the trustee, see The Bankruptcy Trustee and Hearings.
Preparing for the Meeting of Creditors
Before the meeting of creditors, carefully review your bankruptcy petition. If you find that you’ve missed something or an entry is inaccurate, you should:
- file an amendment before the hearing, if possible, or
- be prepared to bring the changes to the trustee’s attention at the very beginning of the hearing. You don’t want to look like you’re hiding information, so don’t wait until the trustee starts asking questions.
Check out our article on preparing for the bankruptcy hearing for more information.
What to Bring to the Hearing
Bring to the hearing:
- photo id
- your Social Security card or other proof of your Social Security number ( or a statement that you don’t have a Social Security number)
- your bankruptcy papers
- proof of income
- recent statements of bank and investment accounts
- if documentation was required for any of your expenses under the means test, those documents, and
- any other documents that the trustee requests in the Notice of Meeting of Creditors or required by local court rules.
The Logistics of the 341 Hearing
The meeting of creditors is held in a meeting room, not a courtroom. There will be no judge present. The trustee will run the hearing, and creditors may attend as well, although in many bankruptcy cases no creditors show up. The trustee will swear you in and ask a series of questions. Remember that even though you are not in a courtroom, you are still under oath.
Typical Questions at the Meeting of Creditors
The trustee will review your petition and ask a series of mostly routine questions, such as whether the information in your petition is correct and whether you omitted anything.
The trustee may ask additional questions in order to find out more about your assets and debts. Or the trustee might ask questions to determine if a particular debt should or should not be discharged.
Typical questions include:
- How did you come up with the value for big ticket items, like your house or car?
- Do you anticipate receiving any tax refunds?
- Have you transferred any property within the last year?
- Does anyone else hold property that belongs to you?
- Do you anticipate receiving an inheritance or life insurance payout in the future?
- Will you be receiving any property as a result of a divorce in the next year?
- Do you have any legal claim for money from a business or another entity?
- Do you have any possible claim against someone because of a recent accident?
- Have you made any recent large payments to relatives or creditors?
- Does anyone owe you money?
See also: Questions to Expect at the Bankruptcy 341 Meeting of Creditors.
Although your creditors will get notice of the 341 hearing, most won’t appear. A few instances when a creditor might appear include:
- the creditor wants to ask you about recent cash advances or credit card charges (to find out if you incurred the debt with no intention of paying it),
- the creditor wants to ask you about information on your bankruptcy papers that differs from what you put on a credit application (to find out if you committed fraud), or
- to find out what you plan to do with secured property, like a car or home mortgage. For example, in a Chapter 7 case a car loan lender may appear and ask if you plan to reaffirm the loan or surrender the car.