When you file for bankruptcy you will, at some point, find yourself at a 341 hearing. This hearing is also called the meeting of the creditors hearing. You, your attorney, any creditors who wish to show up and your trustee will be present.
For the most part, these hearings are not terribly exciting, though we know most of our clients get nervous about them.
Here are a few things you should know.
Your creditors might not even show up.
Usually it doesn’t do them any good to do so. Creditors show up only if they have reason to believe you’re hiding assets or committing fraud. Sometimes they will show up to ask about your intentions regarding collateral, if the loan is a secured loan.
If you’re envisioning a big room with angry representatives from every organization you owe a dime to, put your mind at ease. In general, if you’re playing ball and doing everything your attorneys tell you to do you shouldn’t have much to worry about.
The hard part usually happens at home.
It’s a lot of gathering information and going through paperwork.
There’s a great deal you’ll need to bring to your bankruptcy hearing. For example:
- Bank statements
- Insurance documents
- Your mortgage paperwork
- Your car loan paperwork
- A photo ID
- Your social security card
Gathering all that paperwork up takes time, unless you are pretty organized and have it all put together in a box file. It’s also a good idea to read through your bankruptcy paperwork about a week before you go, just so you know exactly what’s in there. This gives you the chance to spot accidental omissions or other problems you might need to bring to your attorney’s attention.
Trustee questions are usually pretty boring.
Worried the trustee is going to put you in the hot seat? Grill you on every last purchase you’ve ever made over the last several years?
Unlikely. Hard, uncomfortable questions show up only if the trustee thinks you’re hiding something. Otherwise, the questions are about as exciting as sitting through one of those blood drive questionnaires.
A few representative samples could include:
- Did you sign your bankruptcy petition?
- Have you identified all your assets and debts?
- Have you repaid debts to friends or family members in the past year?
By this point, as long as you’re not representing yourself pro se, you’re covered. You and your bankruptcy attorney have already been through the proper steps to make sure your answers to these questions are the right ones.
Of course, if you’re filing pro se, all bets are off.
If you’re filing pro se there’s a good chance you’ve made major mistakes with your bankruptcy paperwork, mistakes which could put you and your case under deep scrutiny. Some of these mistakes may even land you in criminal court. If you want an exciting 341 hearing (nobody does) then representing yourself is a great way to do it.
Otherwise, take a breath, relax. Call us for your free consultation, and be aware the most trouble most of our clients have at creditor meetings is, typically, the quest to find decent parking near the courthouse.