The meeting with the creditors, which is also referred to as the “341 meeting” due to its reference in Section # 341 of the Bankruptcy Code, is perhaps the most important milestone of the bankruptcy filing process. Therefore, you should focus on preparing for 341 meeting protocol and procedures to ensure that you have everything you need to encounter this hurdle with competence and confidence.
Bring Your Photo ID & Social Security Number
As part of the process, you will be asked to present your photo identification as well as documentation that shows your Social Security number. In most cases, the debtor is sworn in under oath first and then asked to present his or her identification to complete the process. Make sure that you follow whatever other rules may apply to the venue in which the meeting is being held. For instance, if it is inside of a courthouse, you may not be able to bring your cell phone into the building at all.
Always Remain Honest
When preparing for 341 meeting, it is imperative for you to remember the value of absolute honesty without exceptions or conditions. The bankruptcy trustee is responsible for verifying your identity and swearing you under oath before the conversation and questioning begin. You may be asked several questions of a sensitive nature regarding the status of your finances – questions that may reveal embarrassing responses and/or situations.
However, it is recommended for you to remember that the trustee more than likely has already done their homework regarding your case. He or she would have had time to review the details of your case in advance as to be fully prepared for the 341 meeting with you and your lawyer.
Prepare for the Trustee’s Questions
There is not an exact script of how the meeting will flow from beginning to end – especially since the trustee has been appointed to oversee it that way. However, there are certain questions that the trustee will ask you. Keep in mind that he or she would have already taken the time to study your paperwork, so do not be surprised if they dive right into their questions for you without delay after you have been sworn under oath.
On the list of questions that you should expect, you should pay close attention to the required questions addressed below:
- Were your bankruptcy schedules reviewed before signing?
- Are any modifications necessary when reviewing the schedule?
- Are all your debts and assets listed?
- What system did you use to value your property (home, cars, etc.)?
- Do you expect to receive an inheritance at any point in the future?
- Is there a record of any asset transfers?
Have Realistic Expectations When Preparing for 341 Meeting
It may seem as if you are walking headfirst into an ambush where a room filled with creditors, judges and attorneys are there to dissect you for hours.
The truth is that your creditors will more than likely not show up. Studies have shown that creditors may show up simply to determine if their respective debts will benefit from reaffirmation or inquire about their assigned collateral. The overall objective of the 341 meeting, though, is for the trustee to receive information directly from the debtor under oath after he or she has already taken the time to research and study their case.