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.
Most Individuals File for Bankruptcy Relief Under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13.
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.
341 Meeting Questions You Can Expect at a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Hearing
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.
Common 341 Meeting Questions for a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Case
The questions a bankruptcy trustee asks after swearing the debtor in at the meeting include:
- State your name and address for the record
- Have you read the Bankruptcy Information Sheet provided by the United States Trustee? (Chapter 7 case only)
- Is the address on your bankruptcy petition your current address?
- Did you sign the petition, schedules, and related documents?
- Did you read and review the bankruptcy forms and related documents before you signed them?
- Are you personally familiar with the information in your petition, schedules, statements, and other related documents?
- Is the information contained in these documents true and accurate?
- Are there any errors or omissions you need to correct at this time?
- Did you list all your assets on your bankruptcy schedules?
- Are all your creditors listed in your bankruptcy schedules?
- Have you filed a bankruptcy case before this bankruptcy case?
- Did you provide a copy of your tax return to the court? Is the tax return the most recent tax return you filed?
- Do you owe a domestic support obligation (i.e., child support, alimony, or spousal support)? Have you provided the person’s name and address in your bankruptcy schedules?
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.
General 341 Meeting Questions Asked by Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Trustees
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:
- Do you own any real estate or have any interest in real property?
- Have you given any property away or made any transfer of property within the past year? (The period could be longer depending on applicable state law.)
- Is anyone holding property that belongs to you?
- Do you have a claim against a business or any person because of an injury, accident, or other tortious act?
- Are you entitled to inheritance or life insurance proceeds, or do you anticipate being entitled to these assets within the next six months or during the pendency of your bankruptcy case?
- Have you made any payments over $600 to anyone in the past year (two years for family members and insiders)?
- Does anyone owe you money?
- Were you entitled to a refund when you filed your bankruptcy forms? Do you anticipate receiving a refund when you file your next tax return?
- Have you been engaged in any business during the past six years?
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.
What Is the Purpose of the 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.
Can Creditors Appear and Ask Questions?
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.
Is Filing a Chapter 7 Case or Chapter 13 Case Right for You?
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.