The 341 Meeting of Creditors is a hearing where the Trustee will ask you questions,
under oath, about your assets and your liabilities. It is nicknamed the "341 hearing" because it falls under Section 341 of
the Bankruptcy Code.
If you file bankruptcy in Ithaca, Syracuse, Watertown, Auburn, Utica, Cortland, Oswego and most of Central New York, your meeting will take place in downtown Utica, Syracuse, or Watertown. You will be meeting with a Trustee and not a judge so the meeting is more informal than what you would expect. Nevertheless, it is an important part of the bankruptcy process that one should not take lightly.
A Trustee swears in the debtor and conducts the meeting. In Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies, trustees are selected because of their academic or work experience. In Ithaca, we have good natured, respectful, but very thorough Trustees. They have been known to ask questions regarding something out of left field that you did not think would matter. That is why it is absolutely vital your bankruptcy attorney gives you all the information and advice you need to be thoroughly prepared for the 341 bankruptcy meeting. In a Chapter 13 (consumer reorganization) case, the Trustee makes sure that the debtor complies with the bankruptcy plan and makes regular payments to their creditors. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy (a liquidation), the Trustee oversees liquidation and makes payment to creditors. In most cases, there are no assets.
At the 341 Meeting of Creditors, the debtor is sworn in just as in a deposition. The proceeding, however, does not follow the
rules of the courtroom. Creditors may ask questions informally, but there is no court reporter. Most creditors rarely attend.
Proceedings are tape recorded with the Trustee using a small recording machine.
Section 341 meetings usually last no more than five to ten minutes each. I personally attend my 341 Meeting of Creditors.
Proper preparation of the Bankruptcy Petition and Schedules is vital to make the process flow smoothly. The 341 Meeting of Creditors never fails to expose the unfortunate couple who hired "paralegal services" or even filed bankruptcy themselves. Although the Bankruptcy Code allows consumers the right to file bankruptcy without the aid of an attorney (pro se), there is such a strong likelihood that your case may have issues, why would anyone take the risk of filing him or herself? We find that usually people feel they just can’t afford the legal representation they need. With this in mind, we are committed to offering the most flexible payment plan possible for our clients. We understand that most clients do not have several hundred dollars just laying around. After all, if you did, you probably wouldn't be filing bankruptcy in the first place.
The trustee may also ask other questions related to your property or how you reached the
values on your assets. If the trustee needs more information or documents that aren't currently available, the meeting may be
continued to a later date when the required information can be provided and all questions answered. You and your attorney are
required to attend the 341 Meeting. Many attorneys hire a "cover lawyer" to appear. I am not trying to disparage or put down
other attorneys. I understand why many attorneys do not attend the 341 Meeting. They see it as a quick five to ten minute
relatively routine meeting, which usually occurs without incident. I understand my clients’ anxiety, and I do my best to reduce
their stress by being a reassuring presence and a familiar face.
As you can see, the "341 Meeting of Creditors" is not to be taken lightly. That is why my commitment to you is this:
I will personally prepare you every step of the way and I or, in very rare circumstances, an
attorney selected and approved by me will attend this stressful encounter WITH you!
The 341 Meeting of Creditors causes sleepless nights prior to the big day. After all,
you are discussing your personal finances under oath, while being recorded, in a room full of strangers with a big red sign
emblazoned with the words "FBI INVESTIGATES BANKRUPTCY CRIMES". Who wouldn't be nervous? I understand, and we will get you
through it successfully.
We are looking forward to meeting with you personally and hopefully implementing a plan of action to improve your current situation. We will discuss all your options, provide information and advice, and talk about the pros and cons.