Within a few days of filing your bankruptcy petition, the bankruptcy court will schedule your “first meeting of creditors,” which is often referred to as a “341 hearing.” Your bankruptcy trustee (not the bankruptcy judge) will preside over the meeting of creditors, and you will be required to testify under oath. The trustee will ask you questions about the information provided on your bankruptcy petition and the underlying documents you provided to the trustee upon filing. Creditors or their counsel may also attend the meeting of creditors and ask you a few limited questions. It is natural to be nervous for your meeting of creditors, and following a few simple tips may help to alleviate some of your stress. It will also help your attorney to represent you and prevent delays in your case.
Review your bankruptcy petition, schedules, and statement of financial affairs. The trustee will use your bankruptcy petition, schedules, and SOFA as a guide for any questions that he or she may ask at your meeting of creditors. You should review these documents at least once immediately after they are filed to check for any errors or omissions. If you find any, contact your attorney so that he or she can assist you with necessary amendments. You should also review these documents again just before your meeting of creditors so that you are familiar with what you stated and are ready for any questions that the trustee may ask.
Make sure to bring your ID and proof of your Social Security number with you. You are required to show the trustee a government-issued, photo ID (such as your driver’s license, military ID, or passport) and proof of your Social Security number (usually, your Social Security card, but other items such as an original W-2 may be acceptable). If you do not bring your ID and proof of your social security number to the meeting of creditors, the trustee will reschedule the meeting for a later date, which will delay your discharge.
Arrive early. Your attorney will provide you with date, time, and location information for your meeting of creditors. Before the day of the meeting, make sure that you know where the meeting will be held and how to get there. The day of the meeting, arrive several minutes early. This will help to ensure that your meeting is held on time and may allow you to view the meetings scheduled before yours so that you have a better idea of what to expect.
Provide updated documents to your attorney. Your attorney will let you know if you need to provide any updated documents to the trustee at or before your meeting of creditors. Examples often include updated pay stubs and bank statements. If these are requested, make sure to provide them to your attorney at least 10 days before your meeting of creditors.
Ask questions! Last, but not least, be sure to ask your attorney any questions you have about the meeting of creditors before you get there. No question is a silly question, and it’s best not to wait until the last minute for this important part of your bankruptcy case.