A Walkthrough of a 341 Bankruptcy Meeting

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The 341 Meeting of Creditors is a hearing conducted by the bankruptcy trustee during which the debtor is questioned by the trustee (and any creditors who choose to appear) about the contents of his bankruptcy petition and his overall financial situation.  The debtor’s attendance at the Meeting of Creditors is mandatory.  If a debtor fails to appear at the Meeting of Creditors, his case will be dismissed. 

Sworn Testimony

At the beginning of the 341 meeting, the bankruptcy trustee will swear in the debtor.  This means that the debtor is testifying under penalty of perjury.  If a debtor is later found to have perjured himself at the Meeting of Creditors, he may be subject to civil and criminal penalties.  An audio recording is made of each 341 meeting. 

Proof of Identity

At the Meeting of Creditors, every debtor will be asked to prove his identify by presenting a government issued photo identification card and proof of social security number.  A debtor may prove his social security number by producing any of the following documents: 

  • Social security card;
  • W-2;
  • Correspondence from the Social Security Administration;
  • Correspondence from the IRS; or
  • Health insurance card. 

What Actually Happens at the Meeting of Creditors?

After swearing in a debtor and verifying his identity, the bankruptcy trustee will question the debtor.  The line of questioning depends largely on the debtor’s circumstances.  However, the bankruptcy trustee will usually ask the debtor a variety of general questions regarding: 

  • Marital status;
  • Employment;
  • Income;
  • Why the debtor filed bankruptcy;
  • Number of dependents living in his household;
  • His assets, including their value and equity;
  • His debts;
  • Whether he has filed bankruptcy before and, if so, whether he received a discharge;
  • Whether the debtor expects to inherit money or receive a personal injury settlement or award within the next six months; and
  • Any other matters which pertain to the debtor’s financial circumstances. 

In Chapter 13 cases, the bankruptcy trustee will announce his objections to confirmation at the conclusion of the Meeting of Creditors.  The trustee will also send written Objections to Confirmation to the debtor and his attorney. 

The Meeting of Creditors usually lasts no more than about 15 minutes.  If the trustee believes that more in depth questioning of the debtor is required, he will order the debtor to appear for a deposition. 

Getting Legal Help

Anyone who is considering bankruptcy should hire a qualified bankruptcy attorney.  In addition to preparing and filing the petition and schedules, a bankruptcy attorney will appear at the Meeting of Creditors with each of his clients.  Although the attorney cannot testify, he can assist the debtor in answering the trustee’s questions by referring him to his petition and schedules and the documentation used to complete the petition and schedules.