Preparing for Your Chapter 7 Bankruptcy 341 Meeting
The nervousness surrounding your 341 meeting is natural. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prepare for your meeting, reduce your stress, and avoid unnecessary complications in your bankruptcy case.
Before Your Meeting
Locate your driver’s license and social security card several days before your meeting. The trustee is required to physically inspect documents that confirm your identity and will continue your case to another date if you are unable to produce identification. If you do not have a driver’s license or social security card, discuss your situation with your attorney as early as possible.
Review your bankruptcy schedules the night before your meeting. Note any changes or inaccuracies. Take a notepad and pen to the meeting for notes.
The Day of Your Meeting
Select appropriate clothing. Your 341 meeting is a legal proceeding and you should dress respectfully. Casual clothing such as t-shirts, shorts, jeans, or sandals are frowned upon. Likewise, you should not wear a business suit or dress which will draw extra attention to you. The best choice is informal or “business casual” clothing such as slacks and a collared shirt for men, and pants or skirt for women.
Do not waive a red flag in front of the bull! Do not wear expensive jewelry to your meeting. For women, replacing your wedding ring with another piece of jewelry is a cautious choice. Likewise, leave all electronics at home or in the car. That includes cell phones. A common pet peeve for trustees is when a debtor is reading texts or emails at the meeting with a device not listed on the schedules.
Avoid caffeine and large amounts of fluid that can add to your stress. Use the restroom before your meeting to help calm your nerves.
Arrive twenty minutes early. You need to locate your attorney and “touch base.” Discuss any inaccuracies or changes to your schedules and specifically ask your attorney whether you should disclose the change to the trustee.
Relax and breathe! Remember that nearly every debtor who attends a 341 meeting is surprised at how quick and painless the process is. The trustee has many cases to vet that day and does not have time to scrutinize your case (unless you give him a reason).
Address the trustee with respect. Listen carefully to the trustee’s questions. Answer only the question and do not volunteer information. Do not try to explain or justify your answers. Let your attorney assist you or speak for you if you don’t know the answer to a question. Answer truthfully – you are under oath and being recorded! Do not make quick agreements with the trustee unless you first receive counsel from your attorney.
Speak with your attorney before you leave the meeting site. Your attorney will instruct you regarding your bankruptcy responsibilities after your meeting.
Your participation at the 341 meeting is generally less than ten minutes. Creditors or other parties interested in your case rarely attend this meeting. By spending a few minutes preparing for your meeting, you can reduce your stress and ensure that your meeting goes smoothly.