Approximately 30 to 45 days after your bankruptcy case is filed, you will need to attend a 341 hearing. There are several reasons for the Section 341 Meeting of Creditors. The first reason for the meeting is because it is required by the bankruptcy code. All bankruptcy filers are to be examined under oath with regard to the information contained in their schedules to be eligible to receive a discharge. Because the requirement is found in section 341 of the bankruptcy code, the hearing has earned the nickname “341 Hearing".
Second, the hearing gives creditors an opportunity to ask questions of you with regard to the information listed in your petition and schedules. Bankruptcy is open to the public and so anyone who wants can attend your 341 hearing. However, in most cases, only you, your attorney, and the Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee will actually participate in the hearing. Your creditors have the right to appear at the 341 hearing although they almost never do. I would estimate that in less than one percent of hearings does a creditor actually appear. In even rarer circumstances a representative from the United States Trustee’s office may sit in on the case and monitor the answers given by you or even ask questions.
Third, the 341 hearing allows the trustee to take sworn testimony from you with regard to the information contained in the petition and schedules. Your trustee will ask you additional questions with regard to your assets, liabilities, income, expenses and statement of financial affairs.
Lastly, the trustee must see your driver’s license and social security card to verify that you are who you say you are. You must bring your government issued photo I.D. (drivers’ license) as well as your social security card. You cannot bring a photocopy of the social security card; you must bring the actual card. Your Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee will compare the information on your identification with the information submitted on your bankruptcy petition. The purpose of this requirement is to help curtail identity theft and bankruptcy fraud. In the past criminals had taken a fake social security number, incurred debt associated with that number and then filed for bankruptcy using that number. Requiring the original social security card at the 341 hearings has curtailed this type of fraud.