Most people think that, at some point in their bankruptcy proceedings, they will have to appear before a judge in a courtroom. In fact, this is somewhat of a misnomer. The only appearance that most bankruptcy filers will need to face is the 341 meeting, named after the number of the bankruptcy code. This meeting is far less intimidating than a courtroom appearance, and it is seldom as scary as it sounds. Read on to learn more about the 341 meeting.
Prepare ahead of time: Your appointment letter will give you detailed instructions on when and where your meeting will be held. Make sure you know where to park and get there well ahead of the start time of the meeting. You will need to show your Social Security card and government issued photo identification and you will also need to bring a copy of your bankruptcy paperwork with you. These meetings are usually held in a federal building, but that is not always a courtroom. Additionally, instead of a judge, in most states a bankruptcy trustee presides over the meeting.
Prepare to wait: You may be surprised to find that many other people have been give the same appointment time as you and that you will be waiting in a large room. In this room you are privy to hearing the other bankruptcy filers as their names are called to be sworn in, questioned and then dismissed. Leave your children at home, since you have no way of knowing exactly how long you will need to wait, particularly if your last name starts with "Z".
Prepare to share your bankruptcy attorney: If you are represented by a bankruptcy attorney, like Hawkins Bingham & Miller, you may not spend the entire meeting by their side. Your attorney may have other clients at the meeting, or may have other meetings to attend elsewhere. Once you are called, however, your attorney will likely be by your side when you answer the questions. These questions will be the exact same for most every bankruptcy filer, and usually include:
- Is your bankruptcy petition a true statement of your financial situation?
- Is that your signature on the petition?
- Have you ever filed for bankruptcy?
- Have you completed your taxes?
Be prepared for any creditors that show up. Another name of the 341 meeting is the creditor's meeting. If any creditor wishes to challenge their inclusion on the petition, they will be present at the meeting. Usually, you will know about this ahead of time, and you can count on your attorney to assist you in dealing with the creditor's issue. Most commonly, the creditor will complain that you have misused credit for frivolous purposes before filing. If you can show that your recent use of credit just before you filed was for an important reason, such as a car repair, the bankruptcy will proceed to it's final disposition.