341 Hearing – Meeting of Creditors
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Whether you file Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the 341 Hearing- also known as a 341 Meeting of Creditors- is a vital part of the debt discharge process. Many people who declare bankruptcy are intimidated by this hearing, but it is a mandatory part of every bankruptcy case. Our Las Vegas bankruptcy attorney and team is here to answer your questions about a 341 Meeting of Creditors, as well as any other questions you may have about the bankruptcy process in general.
What is a 341 Meeting of Creditors?
Just like the name suggests, your creditors will be notified and have the option to attend this hearing. Your bankruptcy trustee will be there to oversee the hearing. This hearing is typically quite short- there will usually be more than one debtor listed on the docket for your hearing time. You and your attorney should be there on time, waiting for your case to be called. The first order of business will be confirming your identity. Then, your trustee will ask you questions about your bankruptcy petition, including confirming that you understand all of its contents and that you signed it. If your creditors have taken advantage of their opportunity to attend, they can ask you questions about your petition as well.
How Should I Prepare for My 341 Meeting of Creditors?
These hearings happen quickly, so it’s crucial that you show up on time. If you are attending an in person hearing, make sure you know how to get to the courthouse and where you are parking. If you are attending remotely, make sure you have the proper web calling application installed and updated on the device you plan to use.
One of the major functions of a 341 Meeting of Creditors is verifying your identity. That’s why it’s vital that you bring your driver’s license and social security card to your hearing. If you don’t have a driver’s license, a state-issued i.d. or passport can be used in its place. You will need an original W-2 if you don’t have a social security card. Contact your attorney if you don’t have any applicable forms of identification available.
Don’t forget that your 341 Meeting of Creditors is a hearing, so you need to dress appropriately. That doesn’t mean you need to show up in a suit. But it does mean that it’s unacceptable to show up in sweatpants and flip flops. We recommend dressing in office wear- a sweater, blouse, or button up shirt with slacks or a skirt. If you file Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the trustee can take any of your assets that aren’t protected by exemptions. That means don’t show up in any flashy jewelry or designer duds that you didn’t list in your bankruptcy schedules.
The 341 Meeting of Creditors serves multiple purposes, including validating your identity, confirming the information in your petition, and providing your trustee and creditors the opportunity to raise any concerns they may have. Bankruptcy is designed to give creditors some clarity and fairness, and a 341 Meeting of Creditors can create just that.
You should bring your driver’s license or passport and social security card with you. Dress in office-appropriate attire and avoid extravagant luxury items. Your bankruptcy attorney should let you know if there is anything else specific to your case that you need to bring.
You should always plan around getting to your 341 Meeting of Creditors early, but it’s a simple fact that many people arrive late or not at all. Depending on how late you are, the trustee may be flexible with you or may continue your hearing until another date. This means that the date that your case is discharged will in turn be delayed. If you are late or miss too many hearings, the trustee may dismiss your case altogether.
341 Meetings of Creditors are actually fairly short and sweet when it comes to hearings. Plan to arrive at least 15 minutes early, and make sure you know where you are going to park and have accepted payment, if applicable. The hearing is scheduled to last 30 minutes. However, several other people will have their hearings scheduled at the same time as yours. You will wait with your attorney until the bankruptcy trustee calls your case. Once your case is called, it should only last about 5-10 minutes. You are free to leave and continue about your day once this is complete. However, we recommend going home to take your second credit counseling course when you get home so you don’t procrastinate or forget!
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many bankruptcy trustees are still holding 341 hearings remotely. Make sure all your technological access is working before your hearing begins. Set up your computer somewhere that is quiet with a clean background. If you choose to dress for your hearing up top with pajama bottoms, make sure you have everything set up so that your trustee doesn’t see. If you are having technical issues, you might need to attend your 341 Meeting of Creditors remotely in your attorney’s office.
This all depends on the types of debt you have. Credit card companies and medical providers are unlikely to show up to contest debt discharge at the hearing unless extenuating circumstances are present. However, creditors from smaller companies or more personal sources may want to attend the hearing. For example, your old landlord or the friend who loaned you a few thousand dollars are more likely to attend your 341 Meeting of Creditors than a representative from a payday lender. You can review each of your creditors and discuss their likelihood to attend with your bankruptcy attorney.
Questions Your Bankruptcy Trustee Can Ask at a 341 Hearing
A bankruptcy trustee has a lot of latitude when it comes to questions that they can ask during a 341 hearing. Our experienced Las Vegas Bankruptcy Lawyers can help prepare you for your hearing. Many of the questions that you will be asked will be the “standard” trustee questions, our attorney and staff have worked with thousands of people in Las Vegas, Henderson, Reno, Clark County, and throughout Nevada getting prepared for a 341 Meeting of Creditors. Therefore, some questions that your bankruptcy trustee will ask are asked at every 341 Meeting of Creditors, while others will be specific to your case.
Some of the questions you can definitely expect to hear include:
- Did you read the bankruptcy petition, schedules, and any other attached documents before you signed the petition?
- Have you read the information provided to you by the bankruptcy trustee?
- Is your current address the one listed on your bankruptcy petition?
- Is everything in your bankruptcy petition, to the best of your knowledge, true and correct?
- Have you ever filed bankruptcy in the past?
- Have you listed all of your assets in your schedules and all of your creditors in your creditor mailing matrix?
- What is your current employer’s address?
- Is the tax return provided true and accurate, and the most recent tax return you have available?
- Do you have any domestic support obligations?
The questions above apply in almost every Nevada bankruptcy case filed. However, others questions during your 341 hearing will be more case-specific. Therefore, your Nevada bankruptcy attorney from the Law Offices of Erik Severino should be able to prepare you for these case specific questions.
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What Do I Need to Do After My 341 Meeting of Creditors?
Another requirement of filing bankruptcy is completing two online credit counseling courses. The first is completed before you file your bankruptcy petition. The second course must be completed within 60 days of your 341 Meeting of Creditors. We recommend taking the course as soon as you get home from your hearing so that you don’t put it off or forget about it. It also gives you time to deal with any technical issues that could cause delays in completing your second course.
As mentioned previously, the credit counseling course is taken online, although some providers offer courses by phone if you don’t have computer access. You can expect the course to take around 45-90 minutes to complete. You will also generally need to speak with a credit counselor at the end of your course. This isn’t a pass-fail situation, so don’t feel too much pressure when answering questions within the course. It is only designed to help you build better financial habits after your bankruptcy discharge.
After completing your second course, you must file the completion certificate with the court within that 60 day time limit. This will be your own responsibility unless you hire a bankruptcy attorney, in which case the certificate is usually automatically sent to them and they will file it with the court on your behalf. If you filed Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you should have begun making your plan payments already by this point. You should continue making them for the duration of your payment plan, and contact your bankruptcy attorney as soon as possible if there are any unforeseen problems. If you filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy, there are no plan payments to make and you will simply be sitting and waiting to receive your discharge letter.
Examples of case specific 341 hearing questions include:
- Is anyone holding any property that belongs to you?
- Are you the plaintiff or defendant in any pending lawsuits?
- Do you expect to receive any life insurance proceeds or inheritance?
- Have you made any large payments to creditors or anyone else in the past year?
- Does anyone owe debts to you?
- Are you currently entitled to a tax refund from a state or federal tax filing?