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Chapter 7 Process - The 341 Hearing

The first step in the bankruptcy process requires individuals to file a number of documents with the court, including a statement of their assets and liabilities.

A few weeks after this initial filing, the bankruptcy filer and a court-appointed trustee hold what’s commonly referred to as a "341 hearing." The number "341" is simply a reference to the section of the U.S. Code that explains this meeting, which is also called a creditors meeting.

In brief, a 341 hearing is a meeting between a filer, his or her creditors, their attorneys, and a bankruptcy trustee. There is no reason to fear a 341 hearing, as it is designed to serve as an information-gathering session, not an inquisition.

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The Players at a Chapter 7 341 Hearing

There are only a few different players at this hearing. Listed below are the people who usually attend a 341 hearing under Chapter 7 bankruptcy:

  • Trustee. The court appoints an independent trustee to each bankruptcy case to help serve as a mediator between the filer and the creditors.
  • Bankruptcy filer. During the hearing, the filer is placed under oath and is usually asked a few questions about their finances.
  • Creditors. All creditors listed in the bankruptcy petition are notified of the 341 hearing, but their attendance isn't mandatory. Depending on the nature and size of the debt, creditors may or may not come to the 341 hearing.
  • Bankruptcy attorneys. Both the creditors and the filers are often represented by a lawyer.

One noticeable absence from this list is the bankruptcy judge. If you are nervous about an impending 341 hearing, remember that a judge will not typically be in attendance. Also keep in mind that trustees are neutral parties, not advocates against your case.

Commonly Asked Questions at a 341 Hearing

Now that the key characters have been covered, your next concern may be what occurs at a 341 hearing. For starters, these hearings are often very brief, usually lasting less than an hour.

In addition, the trustee will go over a number of preliminary concerns with the creditor, including explaining the pros and cons of bankruptcy, and the effects of filing bankruptcy on a filer's credit.

Finally, the trustee will usually ask a few questions related to your finances. These questions may include:

  • Is all of the information listed in your bankruptcy documents true?
  • Have you completely listed all your assets and liabilities?
  • Have you filed bankruptcy before?
  • Does your spouse have assets you forgot to mention?

During this session, the trustee is only trying to ensure that you have given the bankruptcy court enough information to decide your case. It is not intended as a "gotcha" session to capture hidden information from unsuspecting filers.

The 341 hearing, in fact, can be a helpful process for both the filer and the bankruptcy court. The journey to debt relief cannot begin without this important meeting.

To learn more about 341 hearings, or to ask questions about other features of bankruptcy, fill out the form below to speak with a local bankruptcy attorney.


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