The Purpose of a 341 Meeting When Filing for Chapter 7 BankruptcyBankruptcy can be an intensely emotional and nerve-racking process that causes stress in plenty of individuals. If your debt continues to pile up it may leave you in a position where you’re feeling overwhelmed or unable to ever pay it down. If you’re contemplating the idea of bankruptcy you might find yourself worrying even more about the process of filing. Bankruptcy can be an extremely helpful solution to make sure that you can overcome your debts and one day repair your credit. Part of the reason why so many people feel stressed about the idea of bankruptcy can come with a misunderstanding of the process. Even though bankruptcy may seem like a frightening solution, it can be a very helpful process for your future. 

Chapter 7

A chapter 7 bankruptcy is a liquidation of available assets which can wipe out all of the unsecured debts that you owe. This can be a simple way that you can handle the process of wiping out your debts and getting on with your life. 

In order to qualify for Chapter 7 you will need to meet a means test. If there is a way you can set up a repayment plan to manage your debts, you may only qualify for chapter 13 bankruptcy. A chapter 7 is much faster, but you have to pass the means test for it. A chapter 13 bankruptcy can often be a lengthier process of around 3-5 years, whereas chapter 7 occurs much faster and lets you move on with your life quickly. 

A 341 Meeting

A 341 meeting is one of the mandatory aspects of filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. A 341 meeting takes its name from the section of bankruptcy code the meeting refers to. A 341 meeting starts a month after you file for bankruptcy, the process means bringing together an attorney, the person filing and a trustee as well as the creditors that are owed money. Creditors can choose not to attend and to have the trustee verify their best interests. 

All parties present during the 341 meeting will work to verify that the paperwork has not been filed inaccurately and that the person that is filing is not committing any type of fraud to ascertain an extra exemption from their debts. Bringing all official documents into the meeting for proving your identity, current income level and your assets need to be included in the meeting. Double checking and validation of these documents will occur throughout the meeting. The main process will also clarify how the debt will be repaid and it starts from unsecured assets like tax debt and child support all the way down to unsecured debts like medical bills and credit cards. 

Tips For Your 341 Meeting

Before you leave for your 341 meeting make sure that you have everything that’s required for your hearing. It’s fairly common for a trustee to ask for bank statements, your income tax returns or your paycheck stubs. You will also need an approved photo ID, your social security number and any documents that reflect a change in your financial position since you have filed your petition. Keeping your own record of your bankruptcy documents can make sure you can have a copy to reference when the trustee asks questions. 

A judge won’t be present in the meeting, it will be guided by the trustee. Your creditors may decide to show up or the trustee could also be responsible for concluding the hearing. You should arrive at the meeting at least 15 min. early and you will want to check on the schedule as soon as you arrive. A trustee may be responsible for looking through as many as 10 cases in the same hour so you will need to make sure you are ready when the time comes. Things will move quickly once you get into the room with the trustee. Trustees will ask you a series of routine questions and usually conclude your hearing within 10 min. maximum. 

Some of The Main Questions That You Can Expect in a 341 Meeting

The routine questions that every trustee must ask are fairly similar and it can be important to prepare accordingly if they happen to arise. Some typical questions that you might be asked is whether or not you reviewed your bankruptcy petition and schedules before the filing process, if the information is correct to the best of your knowledge, if you forgot to disclose any assets, if you forgot to disclose any debts or creditors and if your financial situation has changed since the time of filing.

If your creditor arrives at the 341 meeting they might ask if you made a series of recent cash advances or credit card purchases after filing or if there are discrepancies in your credit application such as the amount of your income or debts to a partner, business partner or spouse that may need to be paid out as part of the debt.

If you want to make sure that you can enjoy the best process for your chapter 7 bankruptcy, it is wise to work with a professional attorney through the process of preparing your bankruptcy and attending your 341 meeting. Contact us today if you need assistance with preparing this meeting!