What is the Meeting of Creditors or 341(a) Meeting?
If you file a bankruptcy, you are required Section 341 of the Bankruptcy Code to attend a meeting of creditors. Do not be alarmed. I assure you this will not be your day of reckoning where all of your creditors show up to the meeting to harass you one last time before you discharge their debts. In reality, the vast majority of the time, no creditors actually show to the meeting. You will attend the meeting with your attorney (if you are reading this blog, it will probably be me) and you will be questioned by the Trustee assigned to administer your case.
What do I bring to the Meeting?
You are required to bring your Photo I.D. and acceptable proof of social security number. The best proof for your social security number is the original social security card. If you can’t find your card, you can usually use an original W-2 or 1099 that has your full social security number as a substitute. If you can’t find those, you can go to a local social security office and request a printout containing your full social security number. Finally, if this is a Chapter 13 meeting of creditors you will need to bring your plan payment in certified funds (check or money order).
What kind of questions do they ask?
The questions are generally yes or no questions about the paperwork you filed to start your bankruptcy. Have you filed bankruptcy before? Did you read the paperwork before you signed? Have you transferred any property over the last four years? Do you owe any domestic support obligations? Then other questions geared to your specific case may be asked. The purpose of the meeting is to determine if you qualify for a bankruptcy and, more importantly to the Trustee, whether you have any assets that can be sold to pay your creditors. The meeting is recorded and your testimony is under penalty of perjury so it is important that you are truthful as significant criminal penalties can result if you testify falsely.
How long does it take?
The actual meeting between you and the Trustee will not likely take more than five minutes. However, other people will be scheduled for the same time as you and sometimes the calendar has 20 or so matters per time slot. It is not unheard of to wait anywhere from a half hour to an hour before your matter was called. Chances are by the time you are called, you will have seen others go through the process and be familiar with what will be expected of you.