Whether you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy or your business files for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy, one of the first events that occurs is the 341(A) meeting of creditors, or what most people refer to as a 341 meeting. The U.S. Bankruptcy Code requires that bankruptcy filers attend this meeting so that they can answer questions from the bankruptcy trustee and any creditors that appear at the meeting. Creditors are the people or entities to whom you owe debts. You and all your creditors listed in your bankruptcy petition will receive notice by mail of the date, time, and location of the 341 meeting. In many cases, the trustee will schedule multiple 341 meetings at roughly the same time, so you may be one of many bankruptcy filers present at the meeting, as well as attorneys and creditors.
Who Attends the 341 Meeting?
All filers in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy proceedings must attend a 341 meeting as one of the requirements to get a bankruptcy discharge. In Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies, the trustee assigned to your case will attend the hearing. In a Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding, a representative of the United States Trustee will attend the hearing.
In most cases, a 341 meeting takes place within three to six weeks of filing for bankruptcy. You generally must attend the 341 meeting in person and you also can have your attorney present. If you and your spouse have filed a joint bankruptcy, then you both must attend the 341 meeting. If your business has filed for bankruptcy, then an officer who is responsible for the business must attend the meeting. If you file for bankruptcy and then fail to show up at the 341 meeting, then the court could dismiss your bankruptcy filing. Creditors, however, may or may not appear at a 341 meeting. In the case of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding, the U.S. Trustee can appoint a creditor committee, which usually consists of the seven largest unsecured creditors of the business. This committee can investigate the debtor’s actions and business operations and help formulate a reorganization plan for the business.
What Happens at the 341 Meeting?
The meeting starts with the bankruptcy checking your identification and swearing you in under oath, which means that you are swearing to tell the truth if the trustee or a creditor asks a question of you. The trustee presides over or runs the 341 meeting. He or she will start by asking you questions to make sure that you understand the bankruptcy process and that you have fully reviewed all the bankruptcy paperwork that you have filed with the court.
If no creditors appear at your 341 meeting and the trustee sees nothing unusual in your bankruptcy paperwork, the remainder of the meeting will go quickly. In most cases, creditors do not bother appearing at 341 meetings, which means that your meeting is likely to be quick and uneventful. As a result, 341 meetings can last as little as 15 minutes.
During the meeting, the trustee can ask you questions to clarify the information listed in your bankruptcy filings, determine how you valued a certain asset or piece of property, and get more details about any recent transfers of property. Your attorney will meet with you and go over the questions that the trustee is likely to act well in advance of your 341 meeting.
Creditors can appear at the 341 meeting to observe the proceedings if they choose. They also may appear if they suspect that you are hiding or have inappropriately transferred money or assets, misstating your income, or otherwise committing fraud in some way.
Secured creditors also may appear at a 341 meeting to ask you how you intend to handle a specific asset and debt in light of your bankruptcy proceedings. A secured debt is a loan that is secured by an asset, such as a vehicle or a home. For instance, a mortgage loan is a secured debt because it is secured by your house, and a car loan is secured by your car. In other words, if you fail to pay the debt, the creditor can take the home from you. At a 341 meeting, the secured creditor may ask you if you intend to continue paying the secured debt or give up the property to the creditor. In a bankruptcy proceeding, you can give up the asset secured by the debt, which is typical when you are unable to pay the debt. In some cases, however, you may have enough income to continue making payments toward the debt so that you can keep the asset secured by the debt.
Get the Legal Advice that You Need Today
At LBE Law Firm, we provide personalized legal advocacy services for individuals on a variety of issues, including bankruptcy proceedings. We will examine your situation for any evidence of consumer protection and Fair Debt Collection Practices Act violations as we prepare your bankruptcy case. We will advise you of your legal rights with respect to creditors and take all measures necessary to protect your interests. LBE Law Firm also represents clients in other legal matters, such as immigration cases, family law, business law, and estate planning. Call, text, or use WhatsApp to contact our office at +1.424.273.5501. You also can reach us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.