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Do you think you are prepared for the 341 meeting?

If you are filing Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy, and your 341 meeting is coming up, you may be getting a little nervous because you do not quite know what to expect.

Even though your attorney has explained how the meeting works, you could probably lower your stress level by reviewing what should happen and what you need to bring.

A little background

The 341 meeting, also known as “the meeting of creditors,” takes its name from Section 341 of the Bankruptcy Code. This particular section sets forth the requirement that a debtor must attend a meeting of his or her creditors and provide responses to any questions asked under oath.

Not a court proceeding

The 341 meeting will be held in a room in a federal building, so you will not have to go to court. You will probably feel relieved to know that it usually only takes a few minutes. Although your creditors receive notices letting them know they are welcome to attend, they rarely do, and it does not affect their rights in any way if they choose not to appear. Any creditor who does show up, however, may question you about the disposition of your assets and other matters concerning the administration of your bankruptcy case.

Providing answers

The meeting is conducted by a trustee who is assigned to your case through the Office of the U.S. Trustee. The trustee will ask you questions, which you must answer under penalty of perjury. Learning about your circumstances will enable the trustee to administer your case more effectively. Do not consider skipping this meeting; if you do not appear, the trustee can request that the court dismiss your bankruptcy case. The judge could also determine that you are uncooperative and therefore hold you in contempt of court.

What to bring

Your bankruptcy attorney will have coached you ahead of the 341 meeting and provided the trustee with certain items, such as your bank statements, tax returns and the title to your car. If you have turned over all the pertinent documents, all you have to bring is proof of your Social Security number and a government-issued photo ID, such as your driver’s license. Your attorney will accompany you to the 341 meeting, and it you will probably find that the whole experience is less stressful than you expect.

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