A person filing for bankruptcy is required to participate in a Meeting of Creditors. It might seem like one of the most intimidating aspects of filing for bankruptcy, but if you understand what to expect and work with an experienced bankruptcy attorney, the meeting becomes just another part of the process.
The Meeting of Creditors, also known as a 341 Meeting, is the only time you are expected to appear before a bankruptcy authority in person to explain your reason for filing. Speaking openly and honestly about your reasons for filing for bankruptcy is the easiest way to get through the meeting. Most people are nervous, but the meeting is typically short and most look back on it and realize it was not that bad. What should you expect at your Meeting of Creditors?
Who Attends the Meeting?
Some people imagine their appearance to be in front of a judge, line of their creditors, and courtroom full of judgmental onlookers. This is not the case at all. As a matter of fact, there is no bankruptcy judge at your 341 meeting. Instead your meeting is conducted by a bankruptcy trustee. Also, in most cases, despite it being called a “Meeting of the Creditors”, the creditors do not bother to show up.
For most, the Meeting of Creditors includes themselves, their attorney, and the trustee sitting at a table and the meeting takes place in a large office or boardroom within the courthouse. In the rare instance a creditor does attend a meeting, he or she is merely collecting information and will not be permitted to harass or demean you. The creditors are permitted a brief time to ask questions, but it will be limited by the trustee for time constraints.
The meetings are open to the public, but in most cases, the only other people there are other debtors waiting for their own meetings. Have you ever heard of anyone going to a Meeting of Creditors for fun? It’s not exactly the hottest ticket in town, so there’s no need to worry about public humiliation! Everyone there is experiencing a similar hardship and taking the same first steps to change their life for the better.
The bankruptcy trustee’s role is to ensure your case is filed in good faith and gather information if any is needed in addition to your paperwork. He or she also collects information about your assets. You can expect a trustee to behave professionally, so do not worry about being criticized during the meeting. Should he or she overstep any boundaries, your attorney is there to intervene. If you are represented by an attorney, he or she must attend and the trustee is not permitted to ask you any questions without your attorney present.
Speak the Truth
At the beginning of the meeting you will be sworn in, so by law, everything you say must be true and complete. If any information is forgotten, a follow-up meeting might be needed. As long as your intention is to be open and honest about your situation, you have no reason to worry about perjuring yourself during the meeting.
If you are concerned about your Meeting of Creditors or you are ready to begin the bankruptcy process, contact the law office of Frank J. LaPerch, PC at 845.942.5500.