WHAT ABOUT THE §341 CREDITOR MEETING?
If you have filed for bankruptcy then you should have received a notice of a 341 Meeting of Creditors. What is it?
The 341 Meeting of Creditors is a required meeting between the debtor and the Trustee (and any creditor who wish to attend) to “review” the schedules filed with the Bankruptcy Petition. The good news is that Judge won’t be present at the meeting so there won’t be any orders made on your Bankruptcy. The bad news is that the meeting is recorded under penalty of perjury so your answers can be used against you in Court.
In theory, the 341 Meeting gives Creditors a chance to come and ask you questions regarding your assets and debts. For example, a Creditor may come and ask for details regarding your real property or question a transfer of assets.
In practice, these meetings last about 10 minutes and go forward without a hitch. In fact, Creditors rarely show up in consumer 341 Bankruptcy meeting. Those that do usually have very specific questions and the Trustee normally does not tolerate high tension extensive cross examinations. If additional time and questioning is needed a separate private meeting (called a §2004 meeting) may be required. However, this generally is seldom required. Without a proper conclusion of the 341 Meeting, your bankruptcy will not be approved so it must go forward.
What Happens at the Meeting?
For the Eastern District of Oklahoma, you will meet me at the 3rd floor of the United States Bankruptcy Courthouse & Federal Building ( the post office in Okmulgee).
For cases filed in the Northern District, the hearing will be held in the Federal Bankruptcy Court House in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
At the meeting, you will wait to get called by the Trustee. Listen to the cases being conducted ahead of you. The trustee asks almost the same questions in each case. When called, you go up to the table with me. The Trustee will confirm your identity with the documents on the record. You will then be sworn under oath to tell the truth. You will be asked to state your name and current address. Everything is being recorded so answer clearly. (Nod of the head will not record to speak up).
What if I can’t be there?
Call my office as soon as you realize you can’t be at the meeting. The trustee will normally allow us to reschedule the meeting one time without too much difficultly. If you are sick, have an auto accident or some other major problem the morning of the meeting, we can have the meeting rescheduled. However, if you wait until just before the meeting time to notify us, an additional fee will be required to cover the time and travel expense of attending the second meeting.
How Do You Prepare?
No matter how simple the 341 Meeting sounds, there is some preparation necessary.
1.Bring a current and valid picture ID (driver’s license or passport) to confirm your identity. I see several 341 Meetings not proceed because the debtor forgot to bring a driver’s license or come with one that has expired. The Trustee will not proceed without it.
2.Bring your social security card. In a pinch, a Trustee has been known to accept a paycheck stub or signed tax return with your social security number on it. However, without it, your 341 Meeting will not be finished and you may need to come back.
3.Read the information sheet that the Trustee mailed you. He will ask if you have read it and if you understood it.
4.Read your Petition and Schedules. Make sure you are familiar with its contents. If there have been any material changes or incorrect information, let me know before the meeting. Contact my office before the day of the meeting so any corrections can be filed before the meeting.
5.If you are a Chapter 13 debtor, then you may have to bring in your plan payment. The Trustee usually wants the payment in a money order, certified check, or cashier’s check.
6.Double check the time and location. Give yourself time to find parking. The meetings go fast and even being half an hour late may cause your meeting to be continued or dismissed. Make sure you have a map if needed. My office will provide you a copy if needed.
Check with me or my office staff prior to the meeting. Ask any questions you have. If there were problems with your petition, chances are that we already knows about them.
There are some basic questions that are always asked:
1.The Trustee will want to know if you ever filed bankruptcy before, and if so, when.
2.He will ask if you have read the information sheet that he mailed to you and if you understood it. (Please read and understand it. If you do not he will send you out to read it and reset your case to the end of the docket. This can mean you have to wait a couple of hours extra).
3.He will want to know if you reviewed your bankruptcy petition before filing and if everything is true and accurate to the best of your knowledge. He will ask if you personally signed them.
4.He will ask if there are any omissions or mistakes you wish to correct now.
5.The Trustee may have a few detailed questions on items that are missing or wrong on the Petition. After that, the meeting will progress a little differently for everybody. The Trustee may ask about some specific items in your bankruptcy petition, such as verifying your job. If unemployed, they may ask if you have found a job. They may ask what you plan to do with real property or cars. If you want to keep the house or cars, then they will ask if you are current on payments and insurance. If you have a business then there may be some questions regarding the income.
(If you have decided to do something different that what was listed on your documents filed with the court let me know before the meeting).
Next, the Trustee will allow any Creditors to ask questions. If any Creditors are present, then they are usually given a few minutes to ask questions. The questions are usually fairly simple. For example, I have seen Creditors ask if you plan on keeping the washer/dryer or the elliptical machine you purchased on a monthly payment plan. However, if it must go longer, the trustee will generally rescheduled it to a private §2004 meeting on a different day.
If you are a Chapter 13 Debtor, the Trustee may confirm your payment plan amounts and the dates when you pay them. The IRS generally will show up to ask when you will file your missing taxes.
Afterwards, if there weren’t any problems, then your meeting will be concluded. If there were problems, such as missing documents (or taxes) then the meeting will be continued to another date or you may be given a few days to provide the documents. In a Chapter 13, the Trustee will announce if they plan to recommend confirmation of your plan or, if not, then what they will need in order to be able to give the recommendation.
After the meeting, make sure you take the post-petition debtor education class to conclude your bankruptcy.
Terry D. Bigby, Attorney at Law, 429 S. Muskogee, Tahlequah, OK 74464
918-456-1782 or 800-699-5893
Practices as an Oklahoma Bankruptcy Attorney
Licensed in Tulsa Bankruptcy Court and other Oklahoma Bankruptcy and State Courts