After you file your bankruptcy forms, the next thing to do is go to the 341 Meeting of Creditors. A Bankruptcy Trustee conducts the Meeting of Creditors. Although it is an informal hearing, it is a hearing. You must appear to answer questions under oath. Your creditors may also appear and ask questions. The thought of testifying in bankruptcy court can be overwhelming. However, understanding the 341 meeting questions the trustee is likely to ask can put you at ease and make the experience less stressful.
Chapter 7 refers to a “liquidation” or “straight” bankruptcy. You can discharge most unsecured debts in Chapter 7. However, if you have assets not protected by bankruptcy exemptions, the Chapter 7 trustee could sell those assets to pay your debts.
Chapter 13 is a reorganization. You propose a three to five-year repayment plan. During that time, you make monthly payments to the Chapter 13 trustee. Most debtors pay a small percentage of the total unsecured debt to discharge the full amount. If you cannot qualify for Chapter 7 or need to protect assets that would be in jeopardy in Chapter 7, a Chapter 13 case might be the best option for getting rid of debts.
The United States Trustee’s office appoints individuals to serve as Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 trustees. These trustees administer the cases assigned to them by the bankruptcy court. One of the duties of a trustee is to conduct the 341 Meeting of Creditors.
When the meeting begins, the debtor (the person who filed the bankruptcy case) is placed under oath. Then, the trustee asks the debtor a series of questions. Many of the questions are routine questions required by the Trustee’s Handbook.
The questions a bankruptcy trustee asks after swearing the debtor in at the meeting include:
There could be other questions that the Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 trustee asks during each Meeting of Creditors. Your responses to questions may also generate other questions.
For example, if you say that you transferred a boat to your cousin, the trustee will ask questions about the type of boat, the value of the boat, the date of transfer, and the amount of money, if any, you received for the boat.
341 Meeting Tip: Arriving early might allow you to sit through several 341 Meetings. By listening to meetings for other debtors, you learn the questions the bankruptcy trustee will ask you during your hearing.
After the bankruptcy trustee completes the required questions, the trustee asks general questions. The general questions depend on the case. While there are some common 341 meeting questions that most trustees ask, the details of the case dictate whether the trustee might have additional questions.
Common general 341 meeting questions include:
Of course, your responses to the above general questions may prompt the bankruptcy trustee to ask other questions to gather additional information.
Some trustees may ask you questions about individual assets, debts, and information reported in your bankruptcy forms. They may ask you specifically whether you have any cash on hand, Certificates of Deposit, socks, or U.S. Savings Bonds. In some cases, a trustee might ask you if you are holding a winning lottery ticket.
If you own a business or have owned a business within the past six years, the bankruptcy trustee asks questions about the business. Among other things, the trustee wants to know who owns the business, what assets the business owns, and what income the business generates.
Check the video below if you'd like to hear a recent, actual experience with a 341 meeting of creditors.
The 341 Meeting of Creditors allows the bankruptcy trustee to ask the debtor questions under oath. It creates an official record for the court. The meetings are generally recorded with audio devices.
The trustee must administer the oath, confirm identity, and ask the required 341 meeting questions. The questions allow the trustee to learn more about the debtor’s financial situation. It also allows the trustee to explore areas of concern or interest that appeared in the debtor’s bankruptcy forms or through the trustee investigating the debtor’s finances.
In a Chapter 7 case, the questions also allow the Chapter 7 trustee to determine if there is property that the trustee must protect for the bankruptcy estate. A Chapter 7 trustee may seize assets not protected by bankruptcy exemptions. However, most Chapter 7 cases are no-asset cases, which means the Chapter 7 trustee does not take any property from the debtor.
Yes, a creditor can appear at your hearing and ask questions. However, the hearing is not an opportunity for creditors to harass a debtor. For the most part, creditors do not appear at 341 Hearings. Instead, they can obtain the information they need by monitoring the online court docket.
Filing bankruptcy can be frightening, stressful, and overwhelming. On the other hand, filing bankruptcy also eliminates debts you cannot afford to pay, relieving stress, increasing your quality of life, and giving you a fresh start to rebuild after a financial crisis.
We help you explore your bankruptcy options. If you need a bankruptcy attorney, our team members can help you locate a bankruptcy attorney close to you for a free bankruptcy consultation.