What Exactly Happens at a 341 Bankruptcy Hearing?

Once you have filed for bankruptcy, it is only a matter of time before you must have a 341 bankruptcy hearing – a meeting that is oftentimes referred to as a “meeting of creditors.” It is technically named after Section # 341 from the Bankruptcy Code.

What exactly takes place at this 341 bankruptcy hearing? Is it required for the person filing for bankruptcy to show up to the 341 bankruptcy hearing?

It All Starts with the Bankruptcy Court Clerk

After the initial paperwork for the bankruptcy is filed, the court clerk will then schedule the 341-bankruptcy meeting of creditors. He or she is responsible for quite a few of the administrative tasks associated with the bankruptcy filing process – including the scheduling of important deadlines, mandatory meetings and other events associated with the various stages of bankruptcy filings.

The Bankruptcy Trustee Will Oversee the Meeting

A bankruptcy trustee is appointed over all bankruptcy cases. The 341 meeting provides these trustees with the opportunity to speak directly with the debtor about his or her liabilities, assets and other issues related to their bankruptcy filing. The debtor is sworn under oath for the duration of the meeting.

The trustee will typically verify the debtor’s identity by asking for photo identification and associated documentation after swearing them in under oath. During the discussion between the debtor and the trustee, the debtor will essentially just want to ask enough questions to verify the accuracy of the paperwork filed by the debtor.

The Privacy Level of a 341 Bankruptcy Hearing

When you first arrive at the courthouse to attend your scheduled 341 meeting, do not be alarmed by the vast number of other people that may be present at the same time. Due to the high number of bankruptcy cases filed within most cities and counties, the same dates and times are used for 10-12 different meetings. However, cases are called individually, and the debtor will be asked to sit with his or her bankruptcy lawyer at a table alongside the bankruptcy trustee.

What Happens Next? 

The standard 341 bankruptcy hearing lasts less than 5 minutes. With a high level of stress and anxiety, it may seem as if the hearing goes on much longer than 5 minutes. However, studies have confirmed that the average hearing usually ends within that span of time.

Keep in mind that the bankruptcy trustee would have already made the time to review the account, the bankruptcy paperwork and any other type of valid documentation in advance. Therefore, he or she will likely come to the table with most (if not all) of the questions that they want to ask you during the hearing. Once those questions have been answered, the hearing is officially adjourned. If everything went okay, the proceeding is then automatically changed to a discharge of debt once the meeting has been adjourned.

You may even feel a sense of relief and relaxation after the 341 meeting has ended. Enjoy that! In the weeks leading up the 341 meeting, you have more than likely stressed yourself (and your family) out in several ways. Once the 341 meeting is over, it is now time for you to focus on taking the next step.