Meeting of creditors or a 341 hearing is generally scheduled within forty days of bankruptcy filing. A debtor should attend the meeting of creditors in order to receive a discharge of the bankruptcy case. Bankruptcy discharge will eliminate all liabilities for debts included in the bankruptcy petition. While the meeting is mandatory for debtors, creditors are not required to appear.
The 341 meeting is simply a fact-finding procedure. The primary function of the meeting of creditors is to authenticate the information a debtor has provided in the initial bankruptcy filing and determine whether any considerable changes have occurred with regard to the debtor’s financial situation. If the answers provided by a debtor clash with the bankruptcy petition the trustee may request further investigation into the case. The 341 meeting also gives creditors an opportunity to ask questions about the case and raise objections to the filing.
The meeting of creditors is typically very short, usually lasting only a few minutes. The meeting takes place in a location selected by the trustee. The trustee will swear the debtor and ask for verification of name and address. The trustee will also provide the debtor with a copy of bankruptcy filing and asks to verify the document. The trustee will then ask a series of questions to debtors concerning debts, assets, income, monthly expenses and financial commitments outside the scope of bankruptcy, such as child support or alimony payments. If no new concerns are raised, the trustee will end the meeting and issue a recommendation for discharge to the bankruptcy court.
If a creditor chooses not to attend the 341 hearing, s/he still has certain days following the meeting to file an objection to the bankruptcy petition. If an objection is lifted, the trustee is responsible for investigating the creditor’s claims and determining whether the case should be dismissed or discharged. In order to get a discharge, a debtor should complete a debtor education course after the bankruptcy is filed and within 45 days of the meeting.