Should a Debtor Be Stressed About the 341 Meeting of Creditors?

Most debtors who file for bankruptcy are stressed out by having to attend their Section 341 meeting of creditors.  In fact, most of our Northern Virginia client base walks out of the 341 meeting saying “That was a lot easier than I expected.”  Here’s why:

The meeting doesn’t take long – 341 meetings in Alexandria are slotted for assigned one-hour dockets.  However, the one-hour dockets usually comprise of 341 meetings for 10-15 debtors, all of whom the appointed trustee must examine under oath within the allotted one-hour timeframe.  Because of the high volume of examinations, each debtor’s 341 meeting usually only takes a few minutes.

The questions are easy – At most chapter 7  and chapter 13 341 meetings, the questions are straightforward.  Although the debtor is sworn in under oath and is required to answer the questions truthfully, the questions usually revolve around contact information for the debtor, questions about property, cars, etc. that are topics the debtor can easily answer.  In less common cases, such as business chapter 7, a trustee may need to ask more in-depth questions in an attempt to clarify more complicated issues for the particular case.

Creditors usually don’t show up – Even though the meeting is often referred to as the “Creditor’s” meeting, creditors don’t usually attend the meeting.  Technically, it is an opportunity for the creditor to ask the debtor questions under oath, but for the most common creditors (mortgage lenders, credit card companies, etc.) the bankruptcy paperwork speaks for itself, especially if it is done correctly.

The meeting is the turning point of your case – Whether you are in chapter 7 or chapter 13, the 341 meeting is typically the turning point in your case.  In chapter 7, it may be the last time you see your attorney and it triggers the 60-day waiting period before the debtor is eligible for a discharge.  In chapter 13, the meeting gives your attorney an opportunity to straighten out any issues that the trustee may have with your proposed plan.  Again, this may be the last time you see your attorney, especially if you and your attorney have put forward a confirmable plan that meets the requirements of the Bankruptcy Code.

The information provided in this article is intended to provide an overview of this topic.  To speak to an attorney and get legal advice specific to your situation, please contact us today.