September 2, 2011
341 meeting and Bankruptcy Fraud
The dreaded 341 Meeting, sometimes referred to as the Meeting of Creditors is the necessary evil that every bankruptcy petitioner must go through. The truth about the 341 meeting is that unless one is committing bankruptcy fraud, there is really very little to worry about at this meeting.
The 341 Meeting will be scheduled approximately 30-45 days after your bankruptcy filing. It is called a 341 meeting after section 341 of the bankruptcy code which makes this a mandatory meeting that must take place before a bankruptcy can be discharged. You, your attorney, the court appointed trustee will be present at this meeting. In addition, any creditor who wishes to challenge a debt can appear at the meeting. It is uncommon that a creditor will show up at a 341 meeting unless there is obvious evidence of bankruptcy fraud of a large enough dollar amount to make it worthwhile for the creditor to pursue a lawsuit. The meeting is really just an information gathering event and is not designed for you to justify the reason for filing for bankruptcy. The majority of the the time there will be 15-20 other bankruptcy petitioners in the room. The meeting, from start to finish, can last 1-2 hours but your part of the meeting usually lasts about 5 minutes. You may leave the room as soon as you are finished with the questioning.
Some possible questions at a 341 meeting are: (Remember you will be under oath)
Please state your name and current address?
Did you state all of your assets and all of your liabilities on your schedule? Have you repaid a family member or friend any money owed in the past year?
Are you anticipating a tax refund this year? If so, how much? Do you anticipate inheriting any money in the next six months?
Has you had any changes in your monthly income since you filed? Have your monthly expenses changes since you filed?
Do you own any real property that is not shown on the schedules?
Are there any additions or corrections to your schedule that you would like to make now?
Have you closed any bank account in the past year?
Have you used credit cards for purchases or cash advances within the past 90 days?
Answers should be kept short, providing specific information to the question asked. Be completely up front and honest to avoid bankruptcy fraud. The trustee most likely will have years of experience and will be able to tell when he/she is getting bogus answers.
For most, the worst part of the 341 meeting is the anticipation of the meeting itself and not the actual meeting. The 341 meeting is in essence just a formality. You mostly likely will get the standard, boiler plate questions and will be out the door a few minutes later. After the 341 meeting, all there is to do is to wait 60 days for your bankruptcy case to be discharged.