Shortly after you file for bankruptcy, the Court sends you a notice to appear at a meeting of creditors, also called a “341 meeting”. This meeting will take place roughly about a month after your case is filed. The notice will contain the date, address, time and the name of the trustee that will be handling your case. This meeting is mandatory. If you do not attend the meeting, your case will be dismissed.
For most people, the meeting goes very quickly. Often, there are no creditors there and it will normally just be you, the trustee and your attorney (assuming you have retained one) involved in the meeting. When your name is called by the trustee, you will need to be prepared with your photo ID and social security card in your hand and ready to give to the trustee. This will keep the process moving along smoothly. The trustee will then swear you in, verify your identification and begin asking you questions regarding your bankruptcy schedules that were filed with the court.
The trustee is interested in recovering non-exempt assets in your estate so that he or she may obtain them, sell them and distribute the proceeds to your unsecured creditors. The trustee will ask you questions regarding the value of your home or your car, and how you came up with the values that you listed on your bankruptcy paperwork. They will also ask you about anticipated tax refunds. Often times, your anticipated tax refund will be an asset of your bankruptcy estate. The trustee may ask you to turn over any non-exempt portion of that tax return so that they can distribute it to creditors.
Additionally, the trustee will be looking for inconsistencies in your paperwork. It is very important that you are honest, both when filling out your bankruptcy paperwork and when you are in front of the trustee at the creditors’ meeting. If your answer to a trustee’s questions is different from what is listed in your bankruptcy paperwork, that will give the trustee a reason to believe that you have not been completely honest and it will make it more difficult for you to get a discharge. Make sure you review your paperwork carefully before filing it with the court because ultimately you are responsible for the information listed on the schedules, even if you did not prepare them.
This is a big step for you in the process of filing bankruptcy. You will likely be a little nervous and apprehensive to go to the meeting and answer more questions in front of someone you have never met before. If you have answered all questions honestly, you have nothing to be worried about. The meeting will likely be brief and you will walk out of there with a fresh start and a real opportunity to get your life back on the right track financially.
If you have questions about this, or anything else related to bankruptcy, it is my recommendation that you consult with a St. Louis Bankruptcy Attorney today. We offer free consultations at a number of locations.