What exactly is a 341 Meeting?
This type of meeting relates to bankruptcy filings and is a creditors’ meeting. Attendees at this meeting must include you (i.e. the person filing for bankruptcy) and the Chapter 7 trustee. Creditors and/or their attorneys are invited, however, it is not mandatory for them to attend.
Finally, if you have an attorney, it is best for that attorney to be present as well. It is sometimes fully referred to as your 341 meeting of creditors.
When does a 341 Meeting take place?
A 341 meeting takes place after you have filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Typically, the meeting takes place about a month after your filing.
What is the purpose of a 341 Meeting?
The aim of this meeting is to ensure that all of the proper bankruptcy paperwork is completed. As well, it’s important to ensure that you are not filing for Chapter 7 so under fraudulent conditions. Finally, another of the meeting’s goals is to confirm that your non-exempt assets can be sold to repay the creditors.
What questions will I be asked?
Your trustee will have already reviewed your bankruptcy paperwork and financial records prior to the meeting. During the meeting, after everyone proves their identity, details of your filing will be discussed.
The trustee will ask you questions regarding why you are filing for bankruptcy, and they will also ask about monthly expenses, debts, assets, marital status, dependents, and other financial responsibilities such as alimony or child support. If creditors are present at the meeting, they may ask questions about loan collateral and repayment.
You may also be asked to attest that all of your assets have been identified and that all of your submitted documentation related to the bankruptcy filing is accurate. You may answer questions about money that you might be entitled to receive in the near future due to tax refunds, being a beneficiary of an estate, pending lawsuits, or from people who owe you money. If you own a business, the bankruptcy trustee may ask about your business’s liabilities, assets, and operations; so, be prepared to answer those questions.
Do I need to go to Court?
Typically, individuals filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy do NOT need to appear before a judge in court. The 341 meetings held by the trustee are in place of this.
The U.S. Bankruptcy Code lists 19 different categories of debts that cannot be discharged in Chapter 7, Chapter 13, or Chapter 12 bankruptcy. Though the details vary among the different chapters, the general, most common examples of non-dischargeable debts are the following:
- Alimony and child support
- Certain taxes that have gone unpaid (i.e. tax liens.) Other federal taxes cannot easily be discharged without a special exemption (speak with your attorney about this); though some federal, state, and local taxes may be eligible for discharge if they date back a certain amount of years.
- Debts relating to death or personal injury caused by your operation of a motor vehicle while intoxicated or on drugs (i.e. a DUI)
- Debts for willful and/or malicious injury to another individual or property
- Debts you failed to include in your list during your bankruptcy filing
- Student loans typically cannot be discharged. However, if you can demonstrate undue hardship to yourself or your dependents (such as not being able to maintain a minimal standard of living) you may be able to discharge these.
- Debts from fraud, embezzlement, or larceny
- Debts from government fines and penalties
Once all your bankruptcy proceedings are complete, your bankruptcy is considered discharged. This occurs after your assets have been sold and your creditors have been paid.
What happens if I miss my 341 Meeting or need to re-schedule?
If you are a “no show” to your meeting – whether it is in person or over the phone – the trustee will most likely dismiss your bankruptcy without a discharge of your debts. That means that you will have to start over from the beginning in your filing process if you want another chance to eliminate your debts.
Clearly that is not ideal, so if you think you will not be able to attend your meeting, you must notify your bankruptcy trustee right away. To note: they are not obligated to allow you to reschedule, so it’s best you plan ahead and be sure you can make it to your meeting without rescheduling. However, if you give the trustee enough notice, they may be able to reschedule you. You are typically allowed to reschedule if:
- you or your attorney has a medical or family emergency or requires immediate medical care – or, if you have an ongoing, serious medical condition that makes you incapable of attending the meeting
- you or your attorney pass away
- emergencies related to the weather
- you have been incarcerated
Can I hold a 341 Meeting by phone?
Yes. In fact, currently, to reduce the spread of COVID-19, all Chapter 7, 11, 12, and 13 341 Meetings will be conducted via telephone.
You or your attorney is required to provide your trustee with an imaged copy of your photo ID and proof of social security number no later than one business day before the 341 meeting; please use a secured method to send this information. If you or your attorney cannot e-mail in your information, you must mail in your information to your trustee well before the meeting, so that they have the info at least one day before.
You will be provided with a toll-free number to call for your meeting, and all the members of the meeting must call that number 10 minutes before the scheduled meeting time. You will also have been provided with a code to enter into your phone before the meeting, so please use a touch tone phone to enter the code followed by the # sign. It is recommended that you use a land line if possible and avoid using speaker phone.
It is also recommended to mute your phone when you are not speaking. Do not put the call on hold any time after you are connected. Whenever you are speaking, identify yourself (each time.) If you become disconnected before the meeting is over, call back.
You should also have your bankruptcy documents available during the meeting in case there are any questions.
To note: the call will be recorded by the trustee, but all other recordings are prohibited.