WHAT TO EXPECT AT YOUR 341 MEETING OF CREDITORS
August 17, 2016 | BANKRUPTCY
The 341 Meeting of Creditors “341” is a mandatory statutory hearing required under the United States Bankruptcy Code. If you file for bankruptcy, you will be required to attend a 341. The purpose of this meeting is to ensure, on the record, that your testimony is 1) your own, 2) the truth, and 3) open to investigation. Your creditors, as you may have guessed, have the opportunity to inquire of the debt you made on your account. The United States Trustee and the case trustee also have the opportunity to ask questions of you. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing, and in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing, the case trustee generally directs the 341 and asks the questions of the debtor for the majority, or entirety of the meeting. Many times, there are no creditors present and the meeting is held with just the trustee, the debtor’s attorney and the debtor present. The 341 can last as little as 5 minutes in some cases, or as long as 45 minutes, approximately, in other cases. Many times, traveling to and waiting for your 341 to begin takes longer than the actual 341 itself.
If your 341 hearing is to be held in Columbus, Ohio, your hearing will be held at the Federal Bankruptcy Building located at 170 North High Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215. This is a downtown location, and you must pay to park. There are meters available for parking, but you should be careful and pay attention to street signs to make sure you are allowed to park at a the meter at the particular time of day. There are also surface parking lots available to the side and rear of the bankruptcy building, the cost is $5.00-$7.00. If your hearing is to be held in Zanesville, Ohio, your hearing will be held at Zanesville City Hall, 401 Market Street, City Council Chambers, Zanesville, OH 43701. Other 341 locations can be found by clicking here.
In Columbus, Ohio, upon entering the Federal Bankruptcy building, you must present your photo ID to the security guard and place all belongings through a security scanner. You will walk through a metal detector and collect your belongings on the other side. You will not be allowed to enter the building or go through security if you have a cell phone or other electronic device. Even if it is completely turned off, you will be denied entrance. Cell phones should be left at home, work, or in a secure location before entering the bankruptcy building. Once through security, you will be directed to Suite 100 for your 341 meeting. Within suite 100, there is a waiting area and doors to 3 hearing rooms. Generally, you should wait in the waiting area for your attorney to arrive, however, if your hearing time has already passed, or is beginning, you may wish to enter the hearing room. Printed dockets are available outside of each room for attorneys and debtors to determine where a hearing is being held. These porcedures may differ slightly in other 341 locations, you should ask your attorney if you have questions about the location and procedures for your particular 341.
During the 341 hearing, your trustee may request certain documentation, which varies based upon the case and the debtor. An experienced attorney will ensure that the proper documentation is provided to ensure the hearing moves forward as quickly and seamlessly as possible for the debtor. It is incumbent upon the debtor and the debtor’s attorney to ensure the trustee has the proper documentation and that the petition, schedules, forms, and documents have been provided in the case. Consequently, it is very important for the debtor in a bankruptcy case to tell the truth and to fully disclose all information to his attorney. Without full disclosure, proper documentation cannot be gathered and essential legal advice may not be given.
Once your 341 hearing is called, you stand before the trustee and be sworn. You must provide proof of identity in the form of a valid driver’s license or other photo ID and a social security card. This information will be verified by the trustee and you will sit with your attorney and respond, on the record, to questions asked by the trustee. An audio recording is made of your 341 testimony, therefore, you should be sure to answer clearly. Some example questions asked by the trustee at your 341 may include:
- Have you reviewed all paperwork filed in your case before it was filed? Are you familiar with the contents of those documents?
- Have you fully disclosed all information? Disclosed all assets? Disclosed all debts? Disclosed all income?
- Did you sign the paperwork in your case?
- Have you lived in the State of Ohio for the past 2 years?
- Have you ever been divorced? Are you under a current support obligation?
- Have you transferred any property for less than fair value within the past 4 years?
- Do you own a business? Do you own a vehicle? Do you own real estate?
These questions, and others asked at the 341 are repetitions of what your attorney will prepare and list in your bankruptcy filing. In the end, generally, the 341 is just a verbal affirmation, on the record, of the veracity of your written bankruptcy petition. Once the trustee is satisfied that the record in your case is accurate and all documentation has been reviewed, he will conclude your 341 Meeting of Creditors.