The 341 Meeting of Creditors
So you filed for bankruptcy relief in the courts to take control of your debts. In each type of bankruptcy proceeding, whether it be a Chapter 7, Chapter 11 or Chapter 13, you will have to attend what is called a 341 meeting with your creditors about 20 to 40 days after you filed the bankruptcy petition.
The meeting with creditors is often short and informal, but the debtor’s attendance is mandatory. Not attending can result in the court throwing out your bankruptcy case. A 341 meeting does not usually take place in the courtroom and is led by the bankruptcy trustee assigned to your case, not a judge.What can I expect to happen at the 341 meeting?
Your trustee will have reviewed and be familiar with your case and attached financial information prior to your meeting with creditors. They will have examined your statements of financial history, tax returns, pay stubs and debts.
The trustee will call your case and your bankruptcy attorney will sit with you to ensure the questions that follow are proper. If any of your creditors or their legal counsel is present, they will also sit at the table with you. The trustee will question you first. The types of questions they ask will depend on whether you filed a Chapter 7 (liquidation), Chapter 13 (consumer reorganization), or Chapter 11 (business reorganization) bankruptcy.Chapter 7
In a Chapter 7 341 meeting of creditors, the trustee determines if you have any nonexempt property they can sell to pay off your debts, and what the value of that property is. Nonexempt property is generally considered the “necessities of modern life.” The questions the trustee will ask you depend on your local jurisdiction and the particular trustee, but typically include:
- Whether all of your property is listed in your bankruptcy schedules, with the correct values listed
- And how you determined the value listed in your paperwork
- Whether you have repaid any close friends or relatives in the last year
- Whether you repaid any creditors in the three months before filing for bankruptcy
- Whether you have dependents
- Whether you owe child support, other domestic support or alimony
- Whether your monthly expenses are reasonable and necessary
Creditors, if present, are allowed to ask you questions next. In a typical Chapter 7 meeting the creditors will ask about the condition of property and whether you intend to keep it. Creditors can also ask questions to determine whether you intend to pay them and whether your Chapter 7 bankruptcy was filed in good faith.Chapter 13
In a Chapter 13 meeting of creditors, the focus is less on your property values and more on the accuracy of your income and job stability. Chapter 13 bankruptcy works off of a payment plan that allows debtors to gradually repay their debts over a three to five year period instead of liquidating your assets to pay your debts like in a Chapter 7. The trustee will want to affirm that the repayment plan you proposed in your bankruptcy filing is workable.Chapter 11
A Chapter 11 creditors meeting mainly focuses on legitimizing the business income, assets and debts. Chapter 11 bankruptcy is also known as “business reorganization” bankruptcy and the trustee and creditors will want to assess whether the reorganization plan you proposed in your bankruptcy filing is feasible.What should I bring to my 341 meeting?
The debtor should typically bring a photo identification and proof of their Social Security number to the meeting of creditors. Trustees will usually not proceed without this initial level of identification. You should also bring any verifying documentation that addresses the questions the trustee will be asking in the meeting, depending on what type of bankruptcy proceeding it is.What questions can I ask my attorney to prepare for the 341 meeting?
- Do you expect my creditors to be there?
- Is there any reason for the trustee to suspect me of fraud or filing in bad faith?
- If I am asked to bring books or records to the meeting, how much notice will they give me?
- Do you anticipate my meeting of creditors to be fairly straightforward, or are there other complex issues that may come up?
If you have filed or are thinking about filing for bankruptcy relief from your debts, it is important that you have a veteran bankruptcy attorney experienced with that type of bankruptcy filing. The attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC are skilled at helping individuals and businesses file for Chapter 7, 11 and 13 bankruptcy proceedings. Contact us today to preserve your rights so that we may assist you through this challenging time.