Declaring bankruptcy can be a daunting process in general. The 341 Meeting of Creditors seems to be one of the scariest parts of the process for most clients. The name alone is ominous, conjuring up images of a room packed with all the people who have been harassing you for money and making your life miserable prior to filing. Well, erase that picture…. The meeting of creditors can be a relatively short and simple process — you, your lawyer, and the bankruptcy trustee meet in a public setting where the trustee will ask you general and specific questions concerning your bankruptcy filing. To make the process less overwhelming, we’ve broken down the main components.
Contrary to the title, although every creditor is notified of your bankruptcy filing, actual creditors rarely show up at the meeting. While creditors are permitted to attend, most do not. Your attorney will handle creditor requests prior or post the 341(a) meeting. Typically, the only person you’ll face is the bankruptcy trustee. He or she is appointed by the court to oversee your bankruptcy filing and to determine whether you have any assets that are worth liquidating for distribution.
This one person can still be intimidating —after all, his or her job is to poke into your papers, financial statements, and assets— so don’t miss the opportunity to bring along your bankruptcy attorney. We are your back up, understand the process and protect your rights.
What exactly happens at a meeting of creditors? Prior to the meeting, the bankruptcy trustee will have reviewed your bankruptcy petition and schedules filed on your behalf for accuracy. They will also have reviewed the supplementary documentation requested post-filing as part of their investigatory function.
On the date of the 341(a) meeting, you will meet with the trustee for a recorded meeting. The trustee will place you under oath and you will be asked a series of questions concerning your petition and the paperwork you submitted. You must answer the trustee’s questions honestly. Some questions that you will be asked include: if you reviewed your petition before filing and if all the information contained in the paperwork is correct to your knowledge. Other common topics that may be covered in the meeting include your financial history, whether you’ve filed for bankruptcy before, tax history, any potential undisclosed assets, and how you calculated the value of your assets and property. This may sound like a lot, but you should have the answers to these questions long before the meeting of creditors. How, you ask?
In filing your paperwork and working alongside your bankruptcy attorney, you will already have reviewed your tax and financial history, determined which assets are exempt, and properly calculated the value of your estate prior to attending the meeting. An experienced and qualified attorney will have identified all potential issues prior to filing your bankruptcy. He or she will have also addressed all potential issues and responses to such issues prior to your attendance at the 341(a) meeting of creditors. There should be no surprises at the 341(a) meeting if all assets and potential issues were properly disclosed to your attorney.
In addition to being prepared for these questions, you must also bring a valid ID and a document with your social security number, to prove you are who you purport to be.
No Need for Fear
The 341(a) meeting of creditors is a small but crucial step toward clearing away debt. With a seasoned and sympathetic bankruptcy lawyer on your team, the meeting will be a formality rather than a cause for fear. At Perez Law Group, PLLC, our bankruptcy attorneys ensure your paperwork is free of mistakes, coach you on how to behave and respond to the trustee, and stay by your side throughout the meeting. No fear here — only a fresh start! Call Perez Law Group, PLLC today at 602-730-7100.