Bankruptcy Process: The Meeting of the Creditors
Once you file your personal bankruptcy petition under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, the Bankruptcy Court assigns a trustee who has a duty to oversee the management of your case. In addition to making a thorough review of your petition and various schedules you filed, the trustee must gather information about your financial affairs. This process includes presiding over a section 341 hearing — also known as the “meeting of the creditors”. Often petitioners can feel nervous about the 341 hearing meeting because they may not know what to expect. There is no reason to be alarmed. Typically, the process is simple and only lasts about 15 minutes.
How to prepare for a meeting of the creditors
Although brief, the meeting of the creditors is an important process in bankruptcy procedure. The Bankruptcy Rules requires you to make an appearance. Failing to attend can lead to the court lifting the automatic stay protection — the injunction that prohibits your creditors from pursuing collections against you during your bankruptcy — and even dismissing your case. On the other hand, your creditors usually that appear and the Bankruptcy Rules do not require their presence.
After administering the oath, the trustee might ask you several questions concerning your bankruptcy documents including your petition and schedules. The questions may be focused on your assets, any exemption you may have claimed or future income you expected. Remember that you are under oath and you are required to answer all of the questions completely and honestly.
When you appear at the hearing bring the following items to the trustee:
- Valid identification – driver’s license or other photo identification issued by the government and your social security card
- Financial documentation which includes proof of the source and amount of your current monthly income, a financial statement of all accounts and your current monthly expenses
- Your recently submitted federal income tax returns