First of all, relax. It is not court. You are not before a judge. The vast majority of 341 meetings are easy and over in a few minutes.

What is a 341 Creditors Meeting?

When you file for bankruptcy, a trustee is appointed to administer your estate. His or her job is to find non-exempt assets. “Non-exempt” means assets that are over the limits of what bankruptcy law allows you to keep. The trustee sells these assets to pay your creditors. He or she receives a commission as incentive.

11 USC 341(a) requires that the trustee convene a meeting of creditors. The idea is that the trustee and your creditors can question you on your assets.

I know that sounds scary, but here’s what usually happens: You show up, wait in a large room with 100 other people, a trustee sits way in the front with an assistant fumbling with the recorder, rolling his eyes while we all wait for a translator to be brought on the phone, and occasionally admonishes the audience for talking too loud. Creditors almost never show. (Your credit card company has better things to do than appear at your meeting.)

While you’re sitting in this large, boring room with no art and a friendly poster warning you that bankruptcy fraud will land you in jail, you are given a green pamphlet to read. Read it. The trustee will ask you if you’ve read it. Often times, the trustee has his or her own form to fill out with a few extra questions. It’s easy to fill out Your attorney can help you with this.

Bring reading material. Once you’re done reading the boring green pamphlet and have filled out the form, there is a lot of waiting. You might want to watch a couple of the people ahead of you to see what’s going to happen. Otherwise without reading material, you will have a very dull wait and get very jealous when you see me sitting next to you enjoying the newspaper.

Eventually, you’ll get called up. The trustee will ask for your ID and Social Security card. Have them ready. He’ll swear you in and then ask questions like:

1) Did you read your petition before signing it?
2) Is everything in there true and correct?
3) Did you read the green pamphlet?

At this point he or she may ask you a few questions about your petition. I can usually predict what those might be and prepare you. In any case, just relax. Answer truthfully and answer only what the trustee is asking. Don’t offer any information he or she doesn’t ask for.

Most of the time this will be over in 2 to 3 minutes. He’ll conclude your meeting and send you on your way with your tax returns. Occasionally, the trustee will ask us for extra information and continue the meeting. Don’t freak out. This is normal. The trustee cannot “conclude” the meeting if he wants more information. So he’ll set another date and tell you that you don’t have to show if he gets the information he needs before then. We get the trustee the information he needs, and clients almost never need to come back.

So let’s talk quickly about situations where 341’s get a little challenging.

I can usually predict which clients are going to run into trouble at the meeting. Those are:

1. Angry family members or ex-business partners – They like to show up, be spiteful, and cause problems for the Debtor. This rarely happens. And you, the client, know best when this will happen. Mostly this just makes the 341 meeting uncomfortable and has little effect on the success of your bankruptcy. Trustees are familiar with this and usually cut off angry, unreasonable people.

2. When you haven’t told the truth or disclosed everything on your petition – Always tell the truth in your bankruptcy. I am here to help you get through this. If there are potential problems or assets you’re worried about keeping, most of the time I can help you solve that problem so long as you tell me about it ahead of time. That’s what I am here for. If you don’t tell the truth, that’s where you can run into serious problems.

Again, we can usually figure out ahead of time what issues might arise.

Otherwise, expect everything to go smoothly.

What to Bring to the Creditors Meeting:
1. I.D.
2. Social Security Card
3. Reading material
4. Dress business casual

If you lost your Social Security card, you must order a new one ahead of time:

Good luck!

The above is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please seek advice from counsel.