The 341 meeting is a first step in the bankruptcy process

Perhaps you have made the decision to file for bankruptcy. You know your creditors will be informed, but what happens next?

Within a few weeks of filing your bankruptcy petition, you will attend the 341 meeting.

What this means

The 341 meeting is also called the meeting of creditors. The name comes from the United States Bankruptcy Code in which Section 341 outlines the requirement for debtors to attend what is essentially a hearing held outside court.

What happens

If you file either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you will meet the trustee assigned to your case from the Office of the U.S. Trustee. He or she will conduct the 341 meeting. To better understand your circumstances so as to administer your case more efficiently, the trustee will ask you questions, which you must answer under penalty of perjury. Your creditors will receive a notice about the 341 meeting, but they rarely attend because they will not forfeit their rights by not attending. Any creditor who does come may ask questions connected with your bankruptcy.

What you should do

Your attorney will accompany you to the 341 meeting and provide the trustee with documents pertinent to your case, such as tax returns, bank statements, car titles and mortgage statements. You are only required to bring a government-issued ID, such as your driver’s license, and proof of your Social Security number. Keep in mind that you must keep this appointment. If you fail to attend the hearing, the trustee could ask the court to dismiss your case or even hold you in contempt on a charge of willful failure to cooperate.

Looking ahead

Many reasons exist for declaring bankruptcy. Perhaps you lost your job, got divorced or were simply overwhelmed by medical bills. Your decision to file puts you squarely on the path to a brighter future, and the 341 meeting is an important step along the way.

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