Most of our bankruptcy clients never have to go to court. However, every client has to attend a meeting conducted by the Bankruptcy Trustee called the “Meeting of Creditors” or “341 Meeting” (after the section of the Bankruptcy Code requiring that the meeting be held). The primary purpose of this meeting is to give the bankruptcy trustee an opportunity to ask questions and to have you confirm under oath that the information you provided in your petition, schedules, and other documents is complete and accurate. Knowing what to expect at the meeting will make things go smoother and help to ease any anxiety you may feel.
Who Attends the Meeting of Creditors?
Generally, the only people who attend this meeting are you, your attorney, and the trustee. Many people are concerned that their creditors will come and press them or somehow “deny the bankruptcy”. Although creditors are invited, can attend the meeting, and can ask questions, it is very uncommon for any creditors to attend the meeting. In Utah, the creditors we see most frequently are RC Willey and America First Credit Union. But generally, it is simply a waste of their time and money to attend the Meeting of Creditors. On the rare occasion when a creditor does turn up, your attorney can make sure they do nothing inappropriate. Occasionally, a representative from the Office of the United States Trustee (the supervisor of your bankruptcy trustee) will attend and may ask questions. You should answer his or her questions in the same manner you would answer the bankruptcy trustee.
For Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases filed in Salt Lake, Davis, Tooele counties the Meetings of Creditors are held in an office building at 405 South Main Street, Salt Lake City. Cases filed in Utah County and most of central Utah are held at the Provo Library at 500 North University Ave. Finally, cases filed in Weber County and north have their meetings held at the Federal Building in Ogden, Utah.
The Creditors Meeting is generally less formal than a hearing held before a judge. You should dress neatly, but you do not need to wear a dress, suit, or tie. When the time comes, you and your attorney will sit across a desk or table from the trustee. In most cases, the meeting is relatively short (often less than 10 minutes). However, you will likely have to wait some time before your case is called.
How the Meeting of Creditors Works
At the beginning of the meeting, the trustee will ask to see your driver’s license and Social Security card and will swear you in. (Plan to have your Social Security card and driver’s license out and in your hand before your meeting begins.) He or she will then ask you questions related to the information that you provided in your petition, schedules, and other documents. Most questions are routine.
It is very important to understand that the trustee will never try to trick you or trip you up. Keep in mind that just because the trustee asks you a certain question does not mean that anything is wrong. If, for example, the the trustee asks you if the amount that you listed for your salary is accurate, it is not an indication that the trustee thinks you are not telling the truth. Most often, the purpose of the question is just to confirm information for the record. Remember, your bankruptcy lawyer will be there to assist you if you do not understand a question. Of course, if anything is inaccurate or possibly has changed, tell your attorney ahead of time.
In addition to asking questions, the trustee will expect to receive certain documents from you, if they have not been provided in advance, including:
- A copy of your most recent pay stub.
- Bank, retirement, and other financial statements showing the balance on the date of filing.
- Your most recent federal tax return (which must be provided at least a week before the meeting).
Expect to provide these documents to your attorney well before the hearing. However, make sure to tell your attorney when there are updates or changes to any of these documents. If the trustee requests any additional information or documents, it is important that you deliver it to your attorney as soon as possible.
That is the entire 341 hearing in a nutshell. In most cases the trustee will simply wish you luck and the meeting is adjourned.