What to expect at the bankruptcy meeting of creditors

This post describes what you can expect at your bankruptcy meeting of creditors in Minnesota.

1. What's a bankruptcy meeting of creditors? A meeting of creditors, sometimes called the "341 meeting," is a requirement of bankruptcy. In most bankruptcy cases, you do not have to appear in court. You go to a meeting of creditors instead. In most cases, the meeting is just a formality, but it's important to prepare either way.

2. When is the meeting? Usually three to five weeks after you file your bankruptcy case.

3. Who shows up at the meeting? The bankruptcy meeting of creditors happens in public, so other bankruptcy filers and attorneys will be there. There is also the bankruptcy trustee, who conducts the meeting. The judge is never at the meeting of creditors.

4. But it's called the meeting of creditors. Won't my creditors be there? Creditors show up VERY rarely to these meetings. In the last 100 cases we've been involved in, a creditor has shown up only once, and we totally expected it and prepared for it. Credit card companies, car lenders and mortgage companies almost never show up.

5. What do I need to bring? This is important. The meeting will be canceled and rescheduled if you don't bring proof of ID and social security number. You'll also need your most recent paystub and all bank statements covering the date of filing. We'll ask you for all this stuff way before your meeting so we have backup copies in case you forget.

6. How long does the meeting take? The trustee usually schedules five cases every half hour. So your meeting should take more than a few minutes, unless we've told you that your case is complicated. But if that's the case we'll make sure you're well prepared.

7. What should I wear? Just dress like you would to a meeting at our office. There's no need to dress up, just dress neat (and don't overdo it on the bling--if you come in looking like a zillionaire, people will wonder why you're filing bankruptcy.)

8. What will the trustee ask me? Here are a few questions the trustee is likely to ask:

  • Is this your signature on the petition and schedules? Did you read the petition and schedules before you signed them? Is the information true and complete?

  • Have you listed all of your assets on the schedules? Are you a co-owner of any property with anyone else? (e.g. family cabins)

  • Do you expect to come into any money, such as an inheritance?

  • Does anyone owe you money?

  • Have you paid any creditors in the last 90 days, other than minimum payments?

  • Are you a party to any lawsuits you haven’t identified in your schedules?

  • Are you owed any domestic support? Do you owe domestic support?

  • Have you transferred any property to anyone in the last year? Is anyone holding property for you?

  • Have you previously filed bankruptcy?

9. How should I answer? Just tell the truth. Don't feel like you need to tell a whole story--keep your answers short and sweet--but answer truthfully and completely. If you don't know the answer to a question, ask for clarification--it's better not to answer right away than to answer incorrectly.

10. Where is the meeting?