Are Judges Or Lawyers Present At The 341 Meeting Of Creditors?
Your attorney will attend the meeting with you. If you retain a larger bankruptcy law firm, they might send an attorney that you have never met with before. At Atlas Law Firm, you always have the attorney at the meeting who is the one who’s been handling your case. That is primarily me [Michael Sheridan] because I handle all of our bankruptcy cases. I meet with all of our clients. I handle all the filings, and I also attend all of the 341 meetings for my clients. So there is no confusion on whether I know your file and what’s going on with your case. The trustee is simply an attorney and is not a judge, and the other people who are going to be at the meeting are attorneys and their clients who have their 341 scheduled on the same day as you do.
For example, in Hennepin County, there are seven chapter 7 trustees, and they are randomly assigned cases as they are filed. These attorneys practice law, and obviously, bankruptcy is a big part of their practice, but they might not practice exclusively in bankruptcy. They have support staff in their offices to manage their calendars. As each bankruptcy case is assigned to them, their support staff places the 341 hearing for that case on the trustee’s calendar. So usually within about 48 hours after the case is filed, we have the date and time for the meeting. In the interest of efficiency, the trustees hold their 341 meetings typically one per week, so depending on the trustee you get, your meeting might be set on a Wednesday or a Thursday in the morning or afternoon, and generally, they schedule five 341 meetings per 30-minute time block.
There are going to be other people present, and you will be hearing their testimony as well. But it’s all public record. There are no judges present for your case, so you don’t have to go in front of a judge. The only time you would ever have to see a judge in a bankruptcy case is if one of the creditors filed an adversary proceeding to dispute something you’re trying to do with your case: either discharging their debt or hiding your assets. So 99.9% of the time, you don’t have to meet with a judge. You are only going to meet with that trustee that one time at a 341 meeting.
What Documents Are Needed For The 341 Meeting Of Creditors?
There are four things that you have to bring to the meeting. You have to bring: 1) your driver’s license or state-issued ID; 2) your Social Security card or another document with your full Social Security Number on it; 3) a bank statement from each of your bank accounts, showing what the balances were on the date your case was filed because the balances that were in your bank accounts are considered an asset; and 4) your most recent paystub. If you are self-employed or unemployed at the time of the meeting, you don’t have to bring a recent paystub.
It used to be up until a few years ago that we’d bring all of these things to the 341 meeting itself, but with technological advances, a lot of trustees, at least in our jurisdiction, have wanted bank statements and paystub documents submitted ahead of time before the meeting. Your attorney also has to submit your most recently filed tax returns at least seven days prior to the 341 meeting. A lot of trustees have been asking not only for the most recently filed tax returns but also the bank statements and recent paystub before the meeting.
Most people just bring their driver’s license and Social Security card to the meeting itself. The trustee does have the ability to request additional documentation, and sometimes the trustee will do that, especially if you are self-employed. The trustee may ask for more bank statements or copies of titles or some kind of evidence for the value provided for your home. For example, if you are saying that your home is worth a certain amount because of the comparative market analysis you had done last summer, the trustee might say, “I’d like to see a copy of that comparative market analysis.” That’s not terribly common, but it’s not incredibly rare either.
If you have hired a good bankruptcy attorney, they have probably already asked you for that documentation to verify that all the information is correct, before your case is filed, to make sure that there will be no surprises or errors in your case.
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