If you file for bankruptcy relief, you must attend a mandatory hearing called the meeting of creditors (also called the 341 hearing). The hearing allows 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.
The meeting of creditors is a hearing designed to let the bankruptcy trustee appointed to your case, 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.
Once you file your case, the court will mail you (and your creditors) notice regarding the time and location of your meeting of creditors. A judge won't be at the 341 hearing, and it won't be held in a courtroom. Instead, the bankruptcy trustee appointed to your case will conduct the 341 hearing in a meeting room at the courthouse or an offsite office building.
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, call the trustee's office to find out if you can prove your number in some other way. Keep in mind that you might be required to order a new card and that the trustee might continue the meeting until you can present it.
Also, you should have a copy of your bankruptcy paperwork and the supporting documentation you were required to send to the trustee before the 341 hearing. You can use these documents as a reference when answering questions or provide an additional copy to the trustee if necessary.
Learn more about required identification and other documents necessary at the 341 meeting of creditors.
The trustee will likely schedule several meetings of creditors for each hour. In most cases, you will wait in the meeting room with other debtors until the trustee calls your name. Once called, you'll go up to the trustee's desk, show your identification, and take an oath to be truthful. Keep in mind that these are public hearings, so other debtors will be observing your hearing while waiting for their turn. But you'll likely be able to observe a few debtors' cases yourself, so you'll know what to expect when it's your turn. Each case averages less than ten minutes.
Each trustee must ask every debtor a series of questions at the meeting of creditors. Here is a slightly simplified version of the questions you can expect to answer at the meeting of creditors (the topics are essentially the same):
Once the required questions are out of the way, the trustee will ask questions specific to your case. For instance, the trustee could ask for a more detailed explanation about your property exemptions, the expenses claimed on Schedule E, or your income.
If any creditors appear at the meeting, the trustee will invite them to ask questions, as well. They rarely appear, but when they do, creditors are limited to asking questions about the debtor's finances. If there isn't enough time for the creditor to ask all questions, the trustee might agree to continue the meeting to another day (in fact, this is common). Learn more about creditors and the 341 meeting.
The trustee will conclude the meeting if there are no further questions. 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.
Learn what to expect after the 341 meeting of creditors in a Chapter 7 case or more about completing the Chapter 13 repayment plan.