Bankruptcy in Arizona – What is a 341 Meeting of Creditors, and What Can I Expect?
The Bankruptcy Code maintains that every person or entity, who files for bankruptcy, must have a hearing with their court appointed trustee on the record and under oath. The purpose of the hearing is to gather information, clear up issues, and allow creditors a chance to be heard on the record, if they wish.
The name “Meeting of Creditors" is somewhat inappropriate however, because in most consumer cases (Chapter 7 & Chapter 13) creditors rarely attend this hearing. In fact, of the literally hundreds of consumer bankruptcy 341 hearings I’ve served as attorney of record on, I’ve only had a creditor attend a hearing twice. The first was for something personal (client owed a friend money) and the second, the creditor’s attorney simply entered their appearance. This meeting should be renamed, the “Trustee Hearing" which is what we call it anyway.
What will be asked?
The trustee or the trustee’s attorney assigned to your case will conduct your hearing. They will first look at your ID and Social Security card to be sure that you are the Debtor. If you forget either one of these items, your case will be continued, and you’ll have to come back another time.
You will be sworn in. The trustee will ask you to raise your right hand and swear to tell the truth, under penalty of perjury.
The following are the most typical questions asked:
Please state your name for the record
What is your address?
What is a good day time telephone number?
Have you lived in Arizona for the better part of 180 days before the filing of your bankruptcy petition?
How long have you lived in Arizona?
Have you filed bankruptcy before?
Are you personally familiar with all the information listed in your petition and statements?
Does it list all your assets?
Does it list all your debts?
Do you owe anyone child support of spousal maintenance?
Are you entitled to an inheritance of any kind?
Are you expecting an award from a law suit?
At the end of the hearing, the trustee will ask if any creditors are present. 99% of the time there are none. The trustee may also ask something specific about your case. For example if any documents are missing, the trustee will ask for them (usually a bank statement or the like). In most cases, the trustee hearing is very straight forward.
Most law firms designate an attorney (usually a new attorney) to go to your hearing with you, regardless of whether that attorney worked with you on your case or not. I disagree with this practice. An attorney who has never seen your file until the hearing, has no business representing you there. Even though the 341 hearing is straight forward, the attorney you worked with, or an attorney who has personal knowledge of your case, should be there with you in the event of an issue arising. In ay event, your attorney should prepare you for this hearing so there are no surprises.