Whether you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must attend a mandatory hearing called the meeting of creditors (also called the 341 hearing). At the meeting of creditors, the bankruptcy trustee assigned to your case will examine you under oath about your bankruptcy papers. When you go to your hearing, you must bring certain documents with you to verify your identity and the information contained in your bankruptcy petition and schedules. Read on to learn more about the types of documents you should bring to your 341 hearing.
Why Do I Need to Bring Additional Documents to the Meeting of Creditors?
At the meeting of creditors, the bankruptcy trustee is responsible for verifying your identity and making sure that all of the information in your bankruptcy paperwork is complete and accurate. This means that you will usually need to bring documentation to:
- confirm your identity, and
- support the financial information disclosed in your petition.
In most cases, you will need to provide supporting documents to your trustee prior to the 341 hearing. For example, bankruptcy law states that you must provide the trustee a copy of your most recent federal income tax return at least seven days before your meeting of creditors. But depending on the rules in your jurisdiction, you may need to provide several additional documents to the trustee before going to your 341 hearing.
Keep in mind that even if you give the trustee your supporting documents before the 341 hearing, bring a copy of each document to the hearing because the trustee may require additional copies or ask you specific questions about the documents.
Documents That Can Confirm Your Identity
Because identity theft is a common problem, the bankruptcy trustee must verify that you are actually the person whose name appears on the bankruptcy documents. This means that you are required to bring government-issued photo identification and documentation to prove your Social Security number.
The best way to verify your Social Security number is to bring your Social Security card to the hearing. If you can’t find your Social Security card, many trustees also accept:
- third-party prepared tax returns
- 1099 forms or W-2 statements
- military identification cards that contain your Social Security number, and
- Social Security Administration or IRS letters that have your Social Security number on them.
If you fail to bring proof of your identification and Social Security number, the trustee will reschedule your hearing to another date.
Documents to Verify Your Financial Information
When you file for bankruptcy, you must provide the court with information regarding your income, expenses, property, and debts. The trustee’s job is to verify that the financial information disclosed in your bankruptcy petition is consistent with your supporting documents. For example, if you told the court that you make $3,000 per month but your pay stubs show a monthly income of $5,000, the trustee will ask you to explain the discrepancy.
In general, you should bring the following documents to your meeting of creditors:
- pay stubs or other income documentation
- personal income tax returns (bring copies of all tax returns requested by the trustee)
- personal bank statements showing your account balances on the date of filing
- 401(k) or other retirement plan statements
- profit and loss statements showing your business income (if you are a self-employed debtor) (learn more in Nolo's article Documenting Small Business Income for Bankruptcy)
- business tax returns and bank statements
- mortgage loan documents
- vehicle registrations
- car loan statements
- home and car insurance documentation, and
- appraisals, reports, or other documents showing the value of your assets.
In addition to your supporting documents, you should have a copy of your complete bankruptcy petition with you at the hearing to answer the trustee’s questions as accurately as possible.