Many times, when I have a client that wishes to file for a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, he/she will have concerns regarding any necessary court appearances. In a standard case, all debtors are required to make one appearance in front of the trustee of their case. This “hearing” is called a 341 Meeting of Creditors. The primary purposes for the “hearing” are to swear that the information that has been provided is true and accurate and to allow any creditors who may want to object to the bankruptcy a chance to be heard. This is usually a very informal affair. Typically, the trustee will schedule several 341 Meetings at one time and call each debtor up one by one. Then the trustee will proceed to have the debtor raise his/her hand and swear to tell the truth, the trustee will confirm the debtor’s identity by reviewing his/her drivers license and social security card, and finally, the trustee will proceed with asking the debtor about a dozen or so questions. Questions you can anticipate the trustee to ask include:
- Have you reviewed your bankruptcy petition and schedules and did you sign the documents?
- Is the information provided in your bankruptcy petition accurate with no errors or omission?
- Do you own any real estate?
- How did you determine the value of your real estate?
- Do you have any pending claims against anyone or potential claims that you could bring against anyone?
- Does anyone owe you any money?
- Are you anticipating receiving money from any source other than wages over the next six months?
- Have you filed you state and federal taxes for the last four years?
- Have you filed your taxes for this year?
- Have you received or do you anticipate receiving a tax refund? If so, how much do you expect to receive?
- What circumstances caused you to file for bankruptcy?
- Does anyone here want to enter an appearance in this case? (This is the trustee’s way of seeing if any creditors have appeared to contest the bankruptcy. In many cases, no creditors appear and the matter is concluded).
Of course, each case is unique and presents the opportunity for questions above and beyond those listed here; however, as long as you are truthful with your attorney and the information contained in your petition/schedules is accurate, your 341 Meeting should be nothing more than a procedural step necessary to obtain your discharge.
For additional information regarding bankruptcy, please contact the Law Office of Suzanne Szymoniak.