Everyone who files a Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy must go to “court” at least one time. This court proceeding is the Meeting of Creditors, also called a §341 hearing because it is required by that section of the Bankruptcy Code (11 U.S.C. 341). For many, the prospect of the §341 hearing causes stress or anxiety. It is normal to be apprehensive, but there is nothing to be afraid of. Your attorney will be present and prepare you to meet with the trustee assigned to your case.
What is the §341 Hearing?
The §341 hearing is an opportunity for you to meet with the bankruptcy trustee assigned to your case. The hearing is scheduled approximately 30 days after a bankruptcy petition is filed. Creditors may attend, although they rarely do. Most §341 hearings last less than 5 to 10 minutes.
Role of the Trustee.
When a bankruptcy is filed, an impartial bankruptcy trustee is appointed to review and administer the case. Usually the bankruptcy trustee is a local bankruptcy attorney. In Charleston, Kevin Campbell and Michelle Vieira are appointed as the Chapter 7 trustees and James Wyman is the Chapter 13 trustee.
The trustee reviews the bankruptcy petitions and schedules and the supporting information to assure that documents comply with the law. In a Chapter 13, the trustee makes sure that the proposed plan pays the proper amount to the creditors, manages the claims process and pays creditors.
The trustee asks a series of questions of each debtor at the Meeting of Creditors. These questions must be answered under oath.
In a majority of Chapter 7 cases, people are allowed to keep all their assets because they are protected by exemptions. If you have non-exempt assets, then the trustee may sell those assets to pay creditors.
Preparing for the Meeting of Creditors.
Review your bankruptcy petition and schedules. Be familiar with the information in your petition If there are any changes, advise your attorney before the hearing and let the trustee at the beginning of the hearing. The typical questions are as follows:
- State your name and current address for the record.
- Did you read and review the information sheet from the United States Trustee?
- Did you read and sign the petition, schedules, statements and related documents?
- Are you personally familiar with the information contained in the petition, schedules, statements and related documents?
- To the best of your knowledge, is the information contained in the petition, schedules, statements and related documents true and correct?
- Are there any errors or omissions, to make it true and accurate?
- Have you listed all income you have received from all sources in the past 6 months, including wages, inheritances, loans, tax refunds and retirement?
- Have you listed all your assets?
- Have you listed all your debts?
- Have you filed bankruptcy before? If so, the trustee will ask when.
- Is the copy of the tax return you provided a true and accurate copy of the most recent tax return you filed?
- Have you filed all tax returns for which you are legally responsible to file?
- Are you entitled to a tax refund for this or any other year, or have you recently received one?
- Do you have a domestic support obligation? (This is typically alimony or child support). If yes, are you current on your post-petition domestic support obligations?
- If you own real estate, the trustee will ask:
- What do you estimate the present value of the property to be? or If you sold the property today, what do you think you could sell if for?
- How did you arrive at that value?
- Have you given away, sold or transferred any property within the last 6 years? (Sometimes this is qualified to assets over $5000 or sold/given to family members.) If yes:
- What did you transfer? To whom was it transferred?
- What did you do with the funds?
- The trustee may ask specific questions about your petition and schedules. Please review and be familiar with the information in your petition.
What to Bring to the §341 Hearing.
You must provide proof that you are who you say you are and proof of your social security number. Typically, people bring a driver’s license and social security card. ID’s must have your current address.
ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS ARE REQUIRED. Acceptable forms of proof are:
A. Picture ID
- state driver’s license
- government ID
- state ID
- student ID
- U.S. passport
- military ID
- resident alien card
- Mexican consulate card (“matricula consular”)
B. Proof of SSN:
- social security card
- medical insurance card
- pay stub
- W-2 form
- Internal Revenue Service Form 1099
- Social Security Administration report