At the meeting of creditors – more commonly called a “341 meeting” – the debtor meets with the Chapter 7 trustee assigned to his or her case. This trustee oversees the bankruptcy case on behalf of the Office of the U.S. Trustee and the Department of Justice. The trustee verifies the debtor’s identity by checking proper identification and asks any necessary questions about the schedules and statements filed by the debtor in the bankruptcy case. The debtor’s creditors receive notice of this meeting and are invited to attend and ask the debtor relevant questions, although few ever do. As a result, most 341 meetings are brief Q & A sessions between the trustee and debtor that last less than 10 minutes.
Because 341 meetings are typically brief affairs, there will be several set for the hour. Once the bankruptcy trustee calls your case, you will be asked about routine matters, as well as any issues that require more information or further explanation.
Typical questions asked by the trustee include the following:
- Did you review your bankruptcy petition and schedules before you filed them with the court?
- Is all of the information contained in your bankruptcy papers true and correct to the best of your knowledge?
- Did you disclose all of your assets?
- Did you list all of your creditors?
- Have you filed all tax returns as they have come due?
- Have you ever filed bankruptcy in the past?
- Have any circumstances changed since filing your bankruptcy case?
- Are you required to pay any domestic support obligations such as alimony or child support?
- Have you made any payments to creditors exceeding $600 in aggregate in the last year?
- Does anyone owe you money for any reason?
The trustee will then ask if any creditors are present who wish to be heard (i.e., ask a question). Creditors are then permitted to ask the debtor about any matters relevant to their claim as evidenced by their proof of claim. Most creditors will usually have filed a proof of claim by the time of a 341 meeting since federal law sets the deadline for filing a proof of claim for non-governmental creditors in Chapter 7, 12, or Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases as 70 days after the petition filing date. Most 341 meetings, depending on the chapter, usually occur between 21 and 50 days after the petition is filed.
While a creditor’s questions may be brief, it may have a claim that raises many issues in the bankruptcy case, In fact, this debt and claim may be the driving force behind the bankruptcy filing. If some serious issue requires resolution but time is short, the trustee may continue the 341 meeting to another time to allow further questioning. In most cases, the hearing ends after ten minutes or less.
While creditors receive notice of the 341 hearing, most choose not to appear since they typically already know how their claim will be treated in the bankruptcy case. To attend would require retaining legal counsel and incurring further expenses unnecessarily.
However, as mentioned above, there are a few circumstances when a creditor may appear. They include the following:
- the creditor wants to ask the debtor about recent cash advances or credit card purchases
- the creditor seeks information about disclosures, such as the amount of your income, that differ from those listed on a credit application, or
- a creditor is a hostile former spouse, business partner, or other individual concerned about a debt that the debtor owes him or her.
After the 341 meeting, things are pretty much downhill for most debtors. Any debtor who has already taken his or her financial management course and submitted the certificate of completion to the court may then wait for the court to enter the discharge order. About sixty to ninety (60 – 90) days after the 341 meeting, the clerk of court will mail a copy of the discharge order to the debtor and his or her attorney.
The Morrison Law Group can help if you’re delinquent paying your mortgage and facing foreclosure or you owe back taxes. We can help if you are receiving harassing phone calls or collection letters. The Morrison Law Group can help if you just need to talk about your Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy options. Call 801.456.9933 today to schedule a FREE consultation. We have locations in Ogden, Logan, Sandy, and St. George to serve the residents of the counties of Weber, Cache, Salt Lake, Utah, Morgan, Davis, Washington, and surrounding areas.