May 16, 2019
What is a 341 Meeting?
Once your attorney has filed your bankruptcy petition, a date is set for what’s known as a 341 Meeting. This meeting is an opportunity for you to affirm that the information provided in the petition is correct, that you’ve complied with the court’s requirements regarding the required classes and that you have been forthcoming about the information provided in your petition. It’s also an opportunity for your creditors to be present and ask questions if they choose.
Many people get anxious about attending the 341 Meeting in their case. In reality, the process is very simple and usually much smoother than debtors anticipate. Here are some basics that will help you understand the process.
How Do I Get Ready for the Meeting?
You do need to prepare for the meeting. Much of the preparation involves cooperation with the court and with your attorney. To that end, you supply all the documentation that your lawyer requests as they need to be supplied to the court.
You also want to complete the post-filing financial counseling classes ordered by the court. The great thing is that debtors no longer have to take the classes in traditional settings. Most districts have approved the use of online courses. Your attorney will provide a list of approved courses and you get to choose one from that list. Most courses are designed to provide immediate confirmation upon completion. Make sure you send that confirmation to your lawyer.
341 Meetings are mandatory for debtors. You can expect the meeting to be scheduled anywhere between 21 and 90 days after the bankruptcy petition is filed. Clear your calendar so that nothing will prevent you from being present. Failing to appear could put your chance for bankruptcy in jeopardy unless an emergency arises. If that should happen at the last minute, make sure your lawyer and the court are notified immediately.
Will My Attorney Be Present at the 341 Meeting?
Your lawyer will be present for the meeting. In fact, the core group of participants will be the trustee, you, your attorney, and possibly one or more creditors with their lawyers. Keep in mind that you are not on trial and no one will have an opportunity to berate or attempt to ask leading questions. If you are unsure of how to respond to a question, the trustee will likely grant you a moment to confer with your lawyer.
Will the Trustee Have Questions for Me?
With a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the trustee has a set of questions that will be asked. Those questions have to do with the information that you’ve provided through your lawyer, plus a few other questions to ensure nothing was left out.
Many of the questions require simple “yes” or “no” responses. Essentially, you are affirming that you understand the nature of the petition, that your lawyer provided you with full information about your options and your responsibilities, and that you’ve provided complete information about your financial situation.
Can Creditors Ask Questions During the Meeting?
Don’t be surprised if there are no creditors or representatives of creditors at the meeting. Unlike you, they are not required to be present. Most will skip the meeting altogether and accept the final decision of the bankruptcy court.
If a creditor is present, he or she may choose to function as an observer. Should the creditor choose to ask a question, it must relate directly to their specific debt. If the creditor attempts to ask a question that is outside the scope of the meeting, rest assured the trustee will put a stop to it immediately.
How Long Will the 341 Meeting Last?
While it seems like quite a bit is done in a 341 Meeting, the process moves along much faster than most people expect. It’s not unusual for the meeting to last no longer than three or four minutes. If there are no creditors present or if those who attend choose not to ask any anything, the meeting could be concluded as soon as you provide answers to the trustee’s questions.
Don’t view the 341 Meeting as something to dread. Instead, see if as a step forward in receiving the bankruptcy protection that you seek. Prepare properly, be on time, and cooperate to the best of your ability. You’ll be glad that you did.