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341 Meeting

After a party files for bankruptcy, the bankruptcy clerk will send a notice of a Meeting of Creditors, also called a “341 Meeting”. (This is derived from Bankruptcy Code Section 11 USC 341. The full Code section is included at the end of this article.) What exactly is a 341 Meeting and what can one expect when they attend?


What is a 341 Meeting?

A 341 Meeting is presided over by the bankruptcy trustee and is generally an opportunity for the trustee and/or any creditors to ask the debtor questions about his or her assets and debts. Several meetings will be scheduled for the same time as your meeting. It is probably good idea to arrive early and listen to how the trustee handles the meetings. While a party could be waiting for an hour or longer, each individual meeting lasts less than ten minutes, on average. While it is not considered a formal court hearing, the debtor will be sworn in by the trustee and asked questions under oath.


What to expect at a 341 Meeting

341 Meetings of Creditors are held in a meeting room, not a courtroom. The bankruptcy trustee runs the meetings; no judge is present. While all parties listed in the bankruptcy schedules receive notice of the 341 Meeting, it is not common for creditors to actually attend the meeting. (If there was a significant amount of credit card activity immediately before the bankruptcy filing, the creditor might want to inquire about that activity.) When your matter is called, after being sworn in, the trustee will advise you that you need to verify your identity. You need to have current photo identification with you, as well as your social security card (or some other document with your social security number, such as a pay stub).

The next part of the meeting involves the trustee asking the debtor a series of questions. There are several common or typical questions that the trustee asks. These include:

• Did you review your bankruptcy schedules prior to signing?

• Are your bankruptcy schedules true and accurate?

• Did you omit anything?

• Are there any changes you need to make to your schedules?

• Did you list all of your assets in the schedules?

• Did you list all of your debts in the schedules?

In addition to the common questions, the trustee has discretion to ask any additional questions he or she sees fit to ask. They could include questions to learn more about the debtor’s assets or debts and whether or not a debt should be discharged. The trustee might also be trying to determine if the debtor has any nonexempt assets that could be claimed by the trustee, or whether there were payments to creditors or transfers of property made before the bankruptcy filing that might be recovered by the trustee. Additional questions the trustee might ask include:

• How did you value your home?

• How did you value your car?

• Do you have any claims against anyone as the result of an injury or accident?

• Do you have any legal claim for money from a business or another entity?

• Have you transferred any assets?

• Do you anticipate receiving any tax refunds?

• Have you transferred any real or personal property within the last year?

• Does anyone else hold real or personal property that belongs to you?

• Do you anticipate receiving an inheritance or life insurance payout in the future?

• Will you be receiving any property as a result of a divorce in the next year?

• Have you made any recent large payments to relatives or creditors?

• Does anyone owe you money?

After the meeting concludes, it will likely be the last time you have to personally appear in court on your bankruptcy case. You might even feel a sense of relief after the meeting. However, it is possible that the trustee will “continue” the meeting, meaning you might have to return for a second 341 Meeting. This would occur if the trustee has questions that were not answered to his or her satisfaction. This most commonly occurs with valuations or assets not disclosed. If you have an attorney, the attorney can file supplemental paperwork with the trustee and try to have the follow-up 341 Meeting taken “off calendar”.

11 U.S.C. 341

(a) Within a reasonable time after the order for relief in a case under this title, the United States trustee shall convene and preside at a meeting of creditors.
(b) The United States trustee may convene a meeting of any equity security holders.
(c) The court may not preside at, and may not attend, any meeting under this section including any final meeting of creditors. Notwithstanding any local court rule, provision of a State constitution, any otherwise applicable nonbankruptcy law, or any other requirement that representation at the meeting of creditors under subsection
(a) be by an attorney, a creditor holding a consumer debt or any representative of the creditor (which may include an entity or an employee of an entity and may be a representative for more than 1 creditor) shall be permitted to appear at and participate in the meeting of creditors in a case under chapter 7 or 13, either alone or in conjunction with an attorney for the creditor. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to require any creditor to be represented by an attorney at any meeting of creditors.
(d) Prior to the conclusion of the meeting of creditors or equity security holders, the trustee shall orally examine the debtor to ensure that the debtor in a case under chapter 7 of this title is aware of—
(1) the potential consequences of seeking a discharge in bankruptcy, including the effects on credit history;
(2) the debtor’s ability to file a petition under a different chapter of this title;
(3) the effect of receiving a discharge of debts under this title; and
(4) the effect of reaffirming a debt, including the debtor’s knowledge of the provisions of section 524(d) of this title. (e) Notwithstanding subsections (a) and (b), the court, on the request of a party in interest and after notice and a hearing, for cause may order that the United States trustee not convene a meeting of creditors or equity security holders if the debtor has filed a plan as to which the debtor solicited acceptances prior to the commencement of the case.

ABOUT LINDA LINDSEY

Linda A. Lindsey is a life-long resident of the Inland Empire and she is the sole proprietor of Lindsey Law, APC. She is not only a licensed attorney in the State of California and the United States – Central District Court of California; she also holds an M.B.A. and has over 25 years of successful for-profit and non-profit business experience. She believes that all persons should have access to justice and even with a busy law practice she contributes her time and energy at local legal aid agencies. Ms. Lindsey provides legal representation in the areas of family law, bankruptcy and contracts. Lindsey Law is dedicated to providing its clients with quality legal representation from inception to conclusion. To learn more about Ms. Lindsey and Lindsey Law, APC, please visit http://lindseylawoffice.net