29 Oct What You Need to Know About Your 341 Meeting
After you file for either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy in North Carolina, you’ll have to attend a 341 meeting, also known as a meeting of the creditors. Is in named “341” because of the federal law that requires it, and the 341 meeting is a necessary part of any bankruptcy.
It can relieve unnecessary stress if you understand what does (and usually doesn’t) happen during these meetings, and what you need to do when you attend yours. To help shed some light on 341 meetings, here are some facts you should know.
Filing, Scheduling, and the Bankruptcy Trustee
Once you file for bankruptcy, the court will assign your case to a bankruptcy trustee. The trustee is a lawyer who serves as a kind of case manager. After reviewing your bankruptcy petition and going over the financial details you’ve provided, the trustee will schedule the 341 meeting.
Depending on whether you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, this meeting will be scheduled within a month or so from the date on which you filed your case. In either type of bankruptcy, the 341 meeting can take place no sooner than 21 days after filing.
We would attend the meeting with you as your bankruptcy attorney, but you will be expected to attend the meeting. If you are a married couple, both spouses are required to attend. Rescheduling the meeting is possible in extraordinary situations, but you should plan on attending the meeting as scheduled. In Chapter 13 cases, mandatory credit counselling happens the same day as the 341, so you should plan to take a full day off of work.
Creditors Rarely Come to the “Meeting of Creditors”
The 341 meeting is held in a room at the bankruptcy court that is used pretty much exclusively for 341s. It will not take place in a courtroom and the judge will not be there. The only people at the meeting will be you, your bankruptcy lawyer, the bankruptcy trustee, the bankruptcy administrator, and any creditors who choose to appear.
However, in most personal bankruptcy cases, there are no creditors in attendace at the meeting of the creditors. Though your creditors are allowed to attend this meeting, they rarely do so in personal cases. Creditor do, however, attend more often at business 341 meetings.
Proper Identification Required
When attending your 341 meeting it’s very important that you bring proper identification with you. The bankruptcy trustee will have to verify that you are the person you say you are. The trustee does this by inspecting your photo ID and your Social Security card or other government-issued proof of Social Security number. If you don’t have proper identification with you, the meeting cannot proceed and you will have to reschedule. (We will remind you, and will give you more information about the kinds of ID you can bring with you.)
341 Meeting Questions
At the 341 meeting, the bankruptcy trustee will place you under oath and ask you a series of questions. The questions the trustee asks you are very basic, and in many cases the entire process is over very quickly.
For example, the trustee will ask you if the information you’ve submitted is accurate and truthful, if you helped your lawyer in preparing the bankruptcy documents, and whether you have filed your tax returns for the last three years. The trustee might also ask other questions, such as how you determined the value of some of your property, or, if you’ve filed for Chapter 13, how you plan on making the debt payments.
The bankruptcy administrator might also ask you some questions. The bankruptcy administrator is responsible for ensuring the bankruptcy proceeds according to the procedures established by the bankruptcy court. In most personal bankruptcy cases the bankruptcy administrator doesn’t ask any questions unless there was a problem with your bankruptcy petition.
Finally, there are the creditors. Though creditors can attend and ask you questions about your finances, most institutional creditors don’t bother to attend the 341 meeting. If any creditors do show up at individual bankruptcies, they tend to be smaller lenders who believe they have to show up because they received an official-looking notice from the bankruptcy court. They rarely have any questions to ask.
Being Prepared and Honest
The 341 meeting is not a court hearing, though it often feels like one. When the bankruptcy trustee swears you in and asks you questions, it can feel like you’re in a trial.
Relax. Before you attend the 341 meeting, we will go over the questions you’ll likely be asked. The questions are basic and easy to answer.
However, it’s natural for people to feel defensive and nervous when being asked questions about their personal and financial affairs. While these feelings are normal, you have to be forthright when you answer any question asked if you.
Before you ever get to the 341 meeting, you need to tell your bankruptcy attorney the truth about your finances. We will give you advice based on how the law applies to your circumstances, so being honest about those circumstances is vital.
It’s also important that you’re honest at the 341 meeting. Lying or misleading the trustee can have has serious potential consequences, so you must be truthful.
Getting Over the Intimidation Factor
When you go to the 341 meeting, it’s often a good idea to keep in mind that your bankruptcy trustee has probably handled thousands of cases. The trustee is not there to judge you, yell at you, or insult you. The trustee is a professional, and does this type of thing every day.
Even though the process might seem intimidating to you, it’s only so because you’re new to it. The 341 meeting is a required part of the bankruptcy process, but it’s also something most bankruptcy filers worry about more than they need to.
As long as you’re ready, honest, and show up on time, your 341 meeting will come and go quickly. After it’s over, you’ll wonder why you were ever so worried about it.