What Is a 341 Meeting and How Do I Prepare? 

Filing for bankruptcy is a huge decision. And while filing for a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy can provide you with the financial relief that you need, the process requires multiple steps that can be confusing to the layperson. One of the most important parts of a bankruptcy case is the 341 meeting, which occurs after you’ve filed for a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Consider the following information regarding what you should know about a 341 meeting and how to prepare for your own 341 meeting—

What Is a 341 Meeting?

A 341 meeting, also known as a meeting of creditors or 341 hearing, is an important part of a Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy case. During this meeting, a debtor and their creditors will meet; the court-appointed bankruptcy trustee is also required to attend this meeting. The purpose of the 341 meeting is to establish the facts of the bankruptcy case, facilitate the negotiation and decision regarding a repayment plan, and ensure that all of the paperwork and details of the bankruptcy case are in order. 

The 341 meeting is a good opportunity for creditors to ask questions of the debtor should they have any, such as whether the debtor has any undisclosed income or assets. For the debtor, the primary purpose of the meeting is to authenticate their identity and establish their financial circumstances. 

Do I Need an Attorney for a 341 Meeting?

Attorneys are welcome to attend 341 meetings, but they are not legally required to partake. The only parties who are legally required to be at a 341 hearing are the court-appointed trustee and the debtors; even creditors aren’t legally required to attend, although they may choose to do so. 

While having your attorney present at your 341 meeting may not be required, it is often advised. Indeed, throughout the entire bankruptcy process, working with a legal professional who understands the law and how to represent your best interests throughout the process is recommended, as these types of cases are complex and can even be contested. 

How to Prepare for a 341 Meeting

After you file for bankruptcy, your attorney can provide you with more information about how to prepare for your upcoming 341 meeting. Some steps to both expect and take include:

  • You will receive a copy of the file petition for bankruptcy, schedules, and other documents to review. You should review these in full (with your attorney) and ensure that they are accurate. If you notice any errors or discrepancies, you need to inform the bankruptcy trustee immediately. 
  • Prepare your documents verifying your identification, including your driver’s license or state I.D., Social Security card, or/and any other required identification documents. 
  • Confirm the details of the time and location of your hearing. During the COVID-19 pandemic, these hearings were often occurring by phone. Verify whether your hearing will be in person or conducted virtually. It’s important that you show up to the hearing on time and are fully present (i.e., silence your phone). 
  • Prepare for questions that you may receive from the trustee or creditors. Examples of common questions include:
    • Did you sign the petition of your own accord and will?
    • Is the address on the petition accurate? 
    • Have you read the petition and schedules prior to signing? 
    • Have all of your assets and income been listed in the schedules?
    • Have you filed for bankruptcy in the past? 
    • Do you have any support obligations, such as child support or spousal support?
    • Is there anyone who owes you money?
    • Do you anticipate receiving any assets from a civil case that have not yet been disclosed?
    • Are you involved in any other civil actions at this time? 

What Happens After a 341 Meeting?

341 hearings are fast. In fact, there may be several 341 meetings scheduled to take place within a single hour, which means that your hearing may conclude in as few as 10 minutes or less. 

What happens next will vary slightly depending on whether you are filing for a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. 

For Chapter 7 debtors, the next step is attending the required debtor education courses. After these courses have been completed and a certificate of completion has been filed with the court, the discharge of debts should occur within approximately 60 days. For Chapter 13 debtors, the Chapter 13 repayment plan must be approved. Chapter 13 filers are also required to take a debtor education course.

In most cases, 341 meetings are fast and straightforward. Most holdups relate to misspelled names on official documents, so it’s important to ensure that the information on all documents exactly matches the information on your identification. If you have more questions, the bankruptcy trustee assigned to your case and your attorney are both great resources. 

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