What will happen at my 341 First Meeting of Creditors for my Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case?

 A member of the panel of private trustees, usually an attorney, will be assigned to ask you questions at your 341 First Meeting of Creditors. Every Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 debtor has to attend. It is a matter of routine but still must be taken seriously. You will be placed under oath and asked to provide identification. The Trustee's job is to make sure that all of the paperwork was properly filled out, that you understood it, that you disclosed all of your assets and all of your liabilities, to determine in a Chapter 7 if you have anything above and beyond what you are allowed to keep for distribution to your creditors, and so forth.  In Chicago and suburban Illinois courthouses, this is usually done inside a tiny room across a desk from the trustee with a small tape recorder on the table with your attorney sitting right next to you.

 To call it a first meeting of creditors is a bit of a misnomer because it implies that there will be a second (just like you don’t want to call the first person you marry your “first wife” or “first husband” while you are still married to them). Usually there is only one 341 meeting, unless there is something that needs to be looked into further or if your paperwork needs to be amended. Bankruptcy is a very rule-specific area of law where everything required must be followed strictly.  To have a second meeting happens far more often for people who file without an attorney. Your attorney will give you an idea ahead of time as to what to expect so that you are not nervous, and will come with you to the meeting but cannot answer questions for you.

Creditors have the right to show up but rarely do. When and if a creditor shows up, it is usually to talk to your attorney to find out if you would like to sign a reaffirmation agreement so that you can keep some item of secured property, like a washing machine, for re-negotiated terms. This is another of many reasons why you should have an attorney with you for your bankruptcy case, as you may be asked to sign legal documents that may or may not be in your best interest to sign.