This article is intended to give you an overview of purpose and procedure of the 341(a) meeting of creditors. If you are properly prepared, the 341(a) meeting is not something you should be nervous about.
First, your attorney will be required to submit information about your income, real property and bank accounts, among other things, to the Trustee in advance of the meeting. It is likely that s/he has this information and documentation already, having prepared your petition and schedules. However, as there are strict deadlines for submissions to the Trustee, it is important to respond quickly should your attorney get in touch with you with a request for additional information or documentation.
The 341(a) meeting is scheduled by the Trustee after you file a bankruptcy petition, and your attendance is mandatory. The purpose of this meeting is to allow creditors to ask questions regarding particular debts, however, it is unlikely a creditor will appear in your case unless there is some question as to the dischargeability of a particular debt, or some question as to the disposition of or your intent regarding property secured by debt. So, in actuality, most 341(a) meetings are attended by the debtor, codebtor (if any), debtors' attorney and the Trustee. Your attorney will likely know in advance if any creditor will appear to question you.
The Trustee will swear you in and inform you that your statements are being recorded. Keep in mind that your statements will be under oath, and making statements known to be false is a federal crime. If at any time you are unsure of how to answer a question, it is best to look to your attorney, who may ask the Trustee to clarify the question for you. The Trustee will verify your identity by examining your identification. It is common for Trustees to require a photo ID such as your driver's license as well as your social security card. S/he will then ask you if you reviewed the petition prior to filing, and may ask you to verify that the signature on the petition is your own. S/he may then ask questions regarding your reasons for filing a petition, as well as additional questions regarding your real property and your employment or marital situation, whether anyone owes you money, whether you have any possible legal claims against anyone such as a potential personal injury suit, whether you are likely to inherit money or property in the near future, and how you spent your tax refund. These are but samples of common questions - your attorney will be able to prepare you for the Trustee's questions, which will be based in the particular facts of your case, and you should meet with your attorney a few minutes prior to the scheduled meeting time to review the issues that may be raised.
This article is not legal advice, and you should consult with your attorney about your 341(a) meeting as only your attorney knows the facts of your situation and can prepare you accordlingly. Good luck!
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Attorney