The Bankruptcy Code requires anyone who files for bankruptcy, whether under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, to attend a meeting with their bankruptcy trustee. The trustee’s role is to ensure that the bankruptcy filings are accurate and that the creditors receive their share of the bankruptcy estate or payment plan. At the meeting of creditors (sometimes called a “341 hearing” because it is required by Section 341 of the Bankruptcy Code), the trustee will ask questions of the debtor to verify the debtor’s identity and the accuracy of the filings.
What do I need to do before the meeting of creditors?
To prepare for the meeting, the trustee will need certain documents within five business days of the meeting. The debtor is responsible for sending the trustee certain required documents:
- Two months of pay stubs
- Two months of bank statements
- Two years of federal tax returns.
Depending on the case, the trustee may also ask for other documents, such as:
- Divorce decrees
- Car titles
- Mortgage paperwork
- Receipts for claimed expenses
- Proof of value for a vehicle or home
The debtor is required to comply with any reasonable requests for documents. Anyone with questions about whether a trustee’s request is reasonable should consult an attorney.
In addition to providing the trustee the required documents, a debtor should review his or her filings again before the meeting and make sure they’re still accurate. The trustee will ask the debtor to verify their accuracy at the meeting and might also have questions specific to the debtor’s situation. It’s a good idea for the debtor to consult with an attorney before the meeting. An attorney can help verify the filings and predict the questions the trustee will ask.
Finally, the debtor should make sure he or she has a photo ID card and proof of his or her social security number, such as a social security card. If the trustee cannot verify the debtor’s identity at the meeting, the meeting will need to be postponed.
What happens at the meeting of creditors?
At the meeting of creditors, the trustee will first verify the debtor’s identity. The debtor will need to bring photo ID and proof of social security number for this. Then, the Bankruptcy Code requires the trustee to ask the debtor the following questions:
- Whether the debtor has reviewed his/her bankruptcy schedules
- Whether the information on the schedules is true and accurate
- If any changes need to be made to the schedules
- Whether all debts and assets were listed on the bankruptcy filing
The trustee will likely also ask a few additional questions to make sure that all non-exempt assets are included in the bankruptcy estate (in Chapter 7) or the repayment plan calculation (in Chapter 13). Below are some questions trustees often ask at a meeting of creditors.
- How the debtor valued his/her home or car
- Whether the debtor has recently transferred any assets
- Whether the debtor is expecting an inheritance
- Whether the debtor has made any recent luxury purchases
The debtor must answer all questions truthfully. An accidental false statement may require the debtor to file an amendment, delaying the process. An intentional false statement is grounds for denying the discharge of debt and can lead to felony charges. An attorney can help prepare for questions by the trustee and make sure the answers are accurate.
Despite the meeting being called a meeting of creditors, creditors rarely show up. Usually, creditors will only attend the meeting if they have a personal relationship with the debtor or if the bankruptcy filings contradict information the debtor gave them.
Who should I contact to help me prepare for my meeting of creditors?
If you’re preparing for a meeting of creditors, you should get help from a lawyer. A bankruptcy attorney can go over your filings with you to make sure they’re accurate and that you’re prepared for any questions the trustee will ask. The attorneys at Rosenblum Law are experienced in bankruptcy law and can make sure your meeting of creditors goes as smoothly as possible. Email us or call 888-815-3649 today.