Bankruptcy cases involve several stages. One of the most important phases of a bankruptcy case in Pennsylvania is the 341 meeting, also known as a “341 hearing” or “meeting of creditors.” The prospect of these meetings can create lots of stress and anxiety in debtors, so in an effort to help set your mind at ease, our Philadelphia bankruptcy lawyers have prepared this short overview of what to expect at your 341 meeting when you file for bankruptcy in Pennsylvania.
What to Expect at the Bankruptcy Meeting of Creditors (341 Hearing)
The 341 hearing can produce trepidation if you have never declared bankruptcy and do not know what to expect. The purpose of the 341 hearing is for the trustee to uncover vital information about your case. The trustee will ask you a series of questions, but just try to stay relaxed: the procedure is relatively quick and informal, and your attorney will be there to help prepare you in advance. Simply answer the questions clearly and honestly, and remember, you can always turn to your Philadelphia Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer with any questions or concerns you may have about the case.
What Questions Are Asked at the Meeting of Creditors?
Every 341 meeting will be slightly different depending on the unique factors and details that impact the debtor’s bankruptcy case. However, generally speaking, debtors can expect trustees to ask the following questions (or variations thereof):
- Are you expecting an inheritance?
- Are your assets included on the schedules (bankruptcy documents)?
- Did you sign the bankruptcy petition, statements, and schedules?
- Do you have the right to sue anyone?
- Do you owe child support and/or alimony?
- Do you own a vehicle?
- Does anyone owe you money?
- Have you engaged in any business?
- Have you previously filed for bankruptcy?
- Have you provided a copy of your most recent tax return?
- Have you transferred any property or given any property away within the last year?
- In the past year, have you made payments over $600 to anyone?
- Is the information contained in your bankruptcy petition, statements, and schedules correct?
- What is your name and current address?
Do Creditors Show Up at the 341 Meeting?
Despite the term “meeting of creditors,” it is actually fairly common for creditors not to appear at the 341 hearing, even though they will be notified of the meeting in advance by the bankruptcy court which is handling your case. Because the primary purpose of a 341 meeting is to clarify information about the debtor’s assets, creditors may decline to attend if, for example, the debtor holds minimal or no assets, as is frequently the case in Chapter 7 bankruptcies. In many (though certainly not all) cases, the only people who will appear at your 341 meeting are your Chapter 7 or Bucks County Chapter 13 bankruptcy attorney, and the trustee who is handling your case.
In fact, the most important attendee at the 341 meeting is you. Unlike your creditors, for whom attendance is optional, you are required to be at the hearing. Your attorney will help make sure that you are adequately prepared, which involves bringing the following documents to your meeting of creditors:
- A valid photo ID, such as your driver’s license or passport
- Bank statements covering the date of filing
- Proof of Social Security Number (SSN)
- Your most recent pay stub
How Long Does the Meeting of Creditors Last?
The meeting of creditors is a far cry from the lengthy, highly publicized court hearings you sometimes see in the news. In most cases, the duration of the hearing is well under half an hour, though you may have to spend some time waiting for your meeting to get started, depending on how busy the trustee is handling other cases. In case of a lengthy wait, it’s a good idea to carve out plenty of time in your schedule so that you are not rushing to or from the hearing.
Philadelphia Bankruptcy Attorneys Handling Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Cases in PA
The idea of the 341 meeting can be intimidating, but try not to let it cause you too much anxiety. With a friendly and knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney from Sadek & Cooper Law Offices on your side, you’ll be thoroughly prepared for every meeting and hearing, and all of your bankruptcy questions will be answered in a clear, honest, and timely fashion. We know the bankruptcy process can be daunting, and we make it our mission to make filing for bankruptcy as simple and stress-free as possible for the clients we represent.
Sadek & Cooper Law Offices handles Chapter 7 bankruptcy and Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Philadelphia and throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania, including Ardmore, Bristol, Chester, Croydon, Drexel Hill, Lansdale, Levittown, King of Prussia, Norristown, Pottstown, Quakertown, Yeadon, and more. For a free and confidential legal consultation, call Sadek & Cooper at (215) 995-2543 today.