When you file for a fresh start under the bankruptcy laws, you, together with your attorney, are required to attend a meeting with the Bankruptcy Trustee. The Trustee is a local attorney who is appointed by the court to review the bankruptcy schedules that have been filed with the court, verify your identity, and make a report to the court as to whether you have any non-exempt property. In most cases, your property is exempt and you are allowed to keep all of your assets.
This meeting is called a Section 341 Meeting of Creditors. "Section 341" refers to the part of the Bankruptcy Code that requires this meeting, and it is called a "Meeting of Creditors" because it is an opportunity for creditors to attend and ask questions regarding your assets or debts. However, in today's electronic age, creditors rarely attend these hearings except in large business cases.
This meeting is very informal and a Judge is not present. You are required to bring your driver's license and social security card to your 341 meeting and you will be asked the following standard questions:
- What is your full name?
- Did you review and sign the documents?
- Are you familiar with the information contained in your filing documents?
- Is the information true and correct?
- Have there been any substantial changes since the filing?
- Are all of your assets listed?
- Are all of your debts listed?
- Do you have a child support or spousal support obligation?
- Have you read the bankruptcy information sheet (a handout I provide to you)?
- Have you filed a bankruptcy previously?
- Are any creditors present?
Although the 341 meeting is usually held at the courthouse in a vacant courtroom, it is not always; in Bremerton the meeting is held in an old shopping center complex; in Everett the meeting is held at the Red Cross Building.
In summary, the 341 meeting of creditors is an informal meeting with the Trustee to verify your identity and to verify that the information in your schedules is true and complete. I, as your attorney, will be attending this meeting with you, with a complete copy of your file, to assist you if needed and to answer any legal questions the Trustee might have. These are very routine meetings with your part taking usually less than five minutes.
David Yando is a bankruptcy lawyer in Tacoma and is the founder of Washington Fresh Start.