As a bankruptcy lawyer at the Botelho Law Group I spend a good amount of my time working with our clients and potential clients explaining the process of bankruptcy. One of the many items that I discuss is what bankruptcy lawyers refer to as the 341 meeting, otherwise known as the meeting of creditors. In many bankruptcy cases this meeting is the only time we have to travel anywhere, but clients are often nervous about the event and it is my hope that this article sheds some light on what to expect and help ease nerves.
The 341 meeting is named such after the section of the Bankruptcy Code that governs the event. While it is a meeting of the creditors, more often than not the meeting really takes place between the Trustee assigned to the case and the client (along with his/her bankruptcy lawyer). It is relatively rare for a creditor to actually attend the meeting. In Massachusetts the meetings take place in Boston, Brockton, Worcester, and Springfield. Which location a particular client is assigned to is based upon the town in which they live.
During a bankruptcy 341 meeting the trustee, and any creditors that may attend, have an opportunity to ask you questions regarding the paperwork that was filed by your bankruptcy lawyer. I half-jokingly refer to these questions as “softball questions”. While it is natural to be nervous going into a 341 meeting, most clients turn to me afterwards and state “that wasn’t so bad at all”. The purpose of the meeting is not adversarial at all, but more of a fact gathering event. In essence, the trustee assigned to the case wants to make sure everything in the file is accurate. Common questions asked by a trustee include:
- why you are filing bankruptcy
- whether you have read all the documents prior to your attorney filing them
- whether you have listed all your property in your schedules and whether you have listed accurate values
- whether you have repaid any of your creditors within the three months prior to your bankruptcy
- whether you have repaid any relatives or close friends in the last year
- whether you have sold or given away any property or transferred any money in the past several years
- whether you own or have ever owned a business
- how you determined the value of your property listed in your paperwork
- whether your income is accurate in your schedules and on your means test
- whether you have dependents
- whether you are married, divorced, separated, or single
- whether you owe child support, alimony, or any other domestic support
- whether your monthly expenses are necessary and reasonable
- whether anybody owes you money
- whether you have a potential law suit or settlement (ex. Personal injury case)
Many times during a 341 meeting the trustee may ask the bankruptcy attorney to amend a particular document. This is very common and most often does not mean that your case is at risk. The bankruptcy attorney might have a short conversation with the trustee to clarify what he/she is looking for and then will draft the necessary documents to comply with the trustee’s wishes. Some trustees ask for more supporting documents than others, so there might be a little bit of “homework” for the client after the meeting such as providing a divorce decree, copy of financial statements, or other evidence that will confirm the bankruptcy paperwork is accurate.
At the Botelho Law Group we realize attending a 341 meeting can be scary, but we will take the time to fully prepare the client for the meeting. As mentioned previously, most clients are surprised how straightforward and non-confrontational the meeting of the creditors actually is. If you have any questions regarding the 341 meeting of creditors or bankruptcy in general, please feel free to set up a consultation with one of our experienced bankruptcy lawyers.
Joseph F. Botelho, Esq.
BOTELHO LAW GROUP
Attorneys At Law
901 Eastern Ave.
Fall River, MA 02723
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