341 Hearings in Bankruptcy
341 meetings, sometimes called a Meeting of Creditors or 341 hearing, is often the only actual meeting a bankruptcy filer must attend during the bankruptcy process. Every bankruptcy petitioner in a CHapter 7 and/or a Chapter 13 must attend a 341 hearing in order to have their debts discharged. As an introductory summary, at a 341 hearing you will be asked questions under oath about your financal condition by a Bankruptcy Trustee, Bankruptcy Administrator, and/or possibly your creditors and/or their Seattle bankruptcy attorney. It sound scary and to first time filers; can be and feel nerve-wracking. However, in the vast majority of cases, you spend less than five minutes answering questions.
Prior to the 341 Hearing
341 hearings are usually scheduled 4-6 weeks after the date in which you file. At least one week before the 341 hearings, you or your Seeattle bankruptcy attorney should make sure the bankruptcy Trustee receives copies of your most recent tax returns, bank statements covering the date of filing, and 60 days of paystubs. If you do not provide these documents or reasons why they are not provided, (for example you can’t provide pay stubs if you haven’t been working) your 341 hearing may be simply continued and you will have to come back for another hearing after the documents are provided. At the meeting, you will usually be scheduled along with a room full of other people persons who have recently filed. When your name is called, you will approach the trustee with your attorney to the front of the room. There you must provide two forms of ID, a photo ID, and some sort of ID that shows your social security number along with your name. After that you will be placed under oath and sit down to answer questions.
During the Meeting
Some questions are canned, and are asked of every debtor at their meeting. Questions that everybody or almost everybody is asked:
Is everything that you wrote on your bankruptcy application correct?
Did you read and sign the petition before filing?
Do you have any domestic support obligations?
Have you ever filed for bankruptcy before?
Is the tax return provided the most recent tax return filed?
Have you made any payments on loans in the last 90 days?
Do you plan on keeping your car (if you owe money on your car?)
Additional questions may be asked by the trustee or administrator if your case is more complicated (if any funds may be distributed for example). Business owners and those with real estate may be asked additional questions. In my experience, business owners are typically asked the most questions in cases where there are items the trustee may need to seek and/or value to determine if any portion of this property must be liquidated.
When the Trustee has finished asking questions, the Trustee will ask if any creditors are present who want to ask the debtor any questions under oath. In the vast majority of cases, there are not. If no creditors have any questions, the debtoris excused. and their 341 meeting is over.
After the 341 Hearing
Creditors will have an additional 60 days from the date of the 1st scheduled 341 meetings to object to any discharge in the bankruptcy petition. In a Chapter 13 this means The debtor will also need to complete the 2nd credit counseling course (financial management course, sometimes called Debtor Education) within these 60 days. If creditors have no filed objections; or any objections from the Trustee, a discharge in a chapter 7 typically takes place about 15 days after the deadline to object. In all about 80-90 days after filing).
Relax, its cool. Don’t be Scared!
341 hearings aren’t that bad in most cases
The 341 meeting is an extremely important step in the bankruptcy process. In the vast majority of chapter 7 cases it takes only a few minutes and is a brief hurdle towards a bankruptcy discharge. Usually only people who did not do the necessary preparation (such as bringing their two forms of ID or did not make their paystubs available to the Trustee) have to repeat their 341 hearings. If are ready and have a good Seattle bankruptcy attorney to help you, the 341 meeting is often one of the easiest tasks that you have to do in your chapter 7 bankruptcy.