Before you can receive a discharge and eliminate your debts in bankruptcy, you must attend a hearing called the meeting of creditors (also called the 341 hearing). In most cases, your meeting of creditors will be a simple hearing that lasts only a few minutes. But to make sure that your 341 hearing goes smoothly, it’s important to prepare for it. Read on to learn more about how to prepare for your 341 hearing. For more information on what happens at a 341 hearing, see our topic area on The Meeting of Creditors.
Calendar Your 341 Hearing
When you file your bankruptcy case, the court will notify you of the time and location of your 341 hearing. The meeting of creditors is a mandatory hearing. Except in rare circumstances (such as a medical or family emergency), you must attend your 341 hearing at its regularly scheduled time. If you fail to attend your 341 hearing, the bankruptcy trustee will typically dismiss your case without a discharge of your debts. (See What Happens If I Don't Attend the Meeting of Creditors?)
Bankruptcy 341 hearings are normally scheduled to take place 20 to 40 days after you file your case. This means that you should have sufficient notice to arrange your affairs so that you can attend your meeting of creditors.
Submit All Supporting Documents to the Trustee
One of the responsibilities of the bankruptcy trustee is to verify the financial information contained in your bankruptcy papers. This means that most trustees will require you to provide them with certain supporting documents prior to your 341 hearing.
The amount of documentation you must provide will depend on your trustee, the rules in your jurisdiction, and your individual circumstances. But in most cases, you can expect to submit your:
- recent tax returns (bankruptcy law requires that you provide the trustee with a copy of your most recent federal tax return at least seven days prior to your 341 hearing)
- pay stubs or other documents to verify your income
- mortgage and car loan statements
- property valuations
- retirement and bank account statements, and
- vehicle registrations.
Review Your Bankruptcy Petition and Schedules
At your 341 hearing, the bankruptcy trustee will ask you under penalty of perjury to verify that the information in your bankruptcy papers is complete and accurate. Further, the trustee may have additional questions relating to your income, assets, expenses, debts, or other financial affairs.
If you review all of your bankruptcy papers before going to your meeting of creditors, you will be able to answer the trustee’s questions more accurately. If you believe that there is a mistake in your bankruptcy papers, you must notify the trustee and file an amendment to correct the error.
To learn more about how to correct mistakes on your bankruptcy petition, see How to Amend Your Bankruptcy Forms.
Bring All Required Documentation to the 341 Hearing
The trustee must confirm your identity and Social Security number at the meeting of creditors. When you go to your 341 hearing, make sure to bring valid government-issued identification and proof of your Social Security number with you.
In addition, you should have your entire bankruptcy petition and all supporting documentation with you at the hearing. Having all of your paperwork with you will allow you to better understand the trustee’s questions and provide extra copies of anything if necessary.
For detailed information on what to bring to your 341 hearing, see Documents to Bring to Your Meeting of Creditors.