If you are filing either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must attend what is known as the 341 meeting.
On the surface, this may seem a bit daunting, since your creditors receive notification of the date and time and may attend. However, if you know what to expect and how to prepare, the meeting should not pose problems for you.
The 341 meeting name comes from Section 341 of the Bankruptcy Code, which cites requirements for the initial meeting of the creditors and holders of equity security pertaining to your case. Although they may attend, they rarely do. Their absence, however, does not have any impact on their rights. The meeting itself is held outside of the court, in less formal surroundings. A trustee from the U.S. Trustee Program will be in charge.
The trustee will review your bankruptcy petition and ask questions, which you will be obliged to answer under penalty of perjury. The purpose of these questions is for the trustee to become familiar with your financial condition, your property and liabilities, so that he or she can manage your case administration efficiently. The trustee will also ensure that you understand both the positive and negative points related to filing for bankruptcy.
Failure to appear
The date scheduled for your 341 meeting will probably be a few weeks after you file your bankruptcy petition. If you should fail to appear at this hearing, the trustee can ask the court to dismiss your case. This could also happen if you are present but do not provide the information requested at the meeting. If you do not cooperate, you could also be held in contempt of court.
Having legal support
This hearing usually only lasts a few minutes. Your attorney will answer your questions, help you prepare and accompany you to the meeting. Remember that bankruptcy is a legal solution to help you emerge from the burden of debt you are under. The 341 meeting is just one step in the process.