The meeting of creditors, or the 341 meeting, is required by section 341 of the Bankruptcy Code. In order to receive the benefits of bankruptcy, you, as the debtor, are required to make yourself available under oath to your creditors. That is done is through what’s called the meeting of creditors. It’s just part of the requirement, so you have to go to this meeting.
Where and When is the First Meeting Set?
The first meeting is usually set about 28 to 35 days after the bankruptcy petition is filed. It can be a little longer for a chapter 13. The meeting is not held in a courtroom, but usually in a meeting room in the federal building near the courthouse. The people that attend the meeting are a US trustee, you and your attorney if you have one. There also often will be other debtors present as well, appearing on the same meeting of creditors calendar. Some trustees work on an hour calendar and some on a half-hour calendar. Once your calendar is called, you sit and wait your turn, with your identification and proof of social security number ready to present to the trustee.
Appropriate identification can be a driver’s license, passport or a government issued ID. It needs to have a picture, birthday and signature, and it must not be expired. You also needs to bring proof of social security number. The proof can be in the form of the actual social security card, or it can be some other document with your full social security number on it, as long as it was issued by a government agency. A document that you have prepared yourself with your social security number on it is not valid proof of your social security number.
How Many Meetings Must Occur? How Many Times Do I Have to Go?
When the petition is filed, a trustee is randomly assigned to your case. A date and time for the meeting of creditors is set. If you bring your ID and proof of social security number, and everything is ready to go, you’ll only have to go once. If the trustee has questions or if the trustee has asked for documents and not gotten them, if you don’t bring your ID or proof of social security number, or if you miss the meeting altogether, the trustee generally will continue the meeting once.
If you miss the second meeting, your case will be dismissed. If you want to re-file, you have may have to wait 180 days to do so, but certainly you will have to pay another filing fee, which for chapter 7 right now is $335.
What’s Exactly Going to Happen If I Don’t Attend the Meeting?
If I know a client is not going to be able to attend, I will call the trustee and just let him or her know. There’s nothing you can do about it but as a courtesy to the trustee just to let him or her know, I usually call and say, “We aren’t going to make it; when is your next meeting? We’ll be at that one”. That’s what they do. They will call your case at your scheduled meeting of creditors and if you’re not there, they will continue it usually two or three weeks later to their next scheduled meeting time and nothing really other than that. If you don’t make it to that second one, they will dismiss your case.
For more information on the Meeting of Creditors, or the 341 Meeting, call (510) 594-2551 for a free initial consultation is your next best step.