If you have made the decision to file Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy, you will be attending the 341 meeting.

This is a shorthand term for a meeting of your creditors. This may sound ominous, but it is a big step forward in your bankruptcy proceeding.

Held outside of court

The 341 meeting will be at a location outside of court and no judge will be present. Instead, you will meet with the trustee from the Office of the U.S. Trustee who will oversee your case. Named for Section 341 of the United States Bankruptcy Code, this is a hearing during which the trustee will ask questions to learn more about your circumstances and you must answer under penalty of perjury. The questions will be about your financial condition, your liabilities, the property you own and similar matters related to your bankruptcy petition.

About your creditors

Your creditors receive notification of the 341 meeting and given the option to attend. They rarely take the opportunity to do so, however, and do not waive their rights if they choose to stay away. Those who do come may question you about your bankruptcy, your assets and matters relating thereto.

Be sure to appear

Your attorney will provide the trustee with the necessary documents in your case. These might include such items as your checking and savings account records, real estate deeds, and the title to your vehicle. You will only need to bring a photo ID, such as your driver’s license, and your Social Security card. Keep in mind that the 341 meeting cannot go forward if you forget to bring these items. Also, do not fail to keep the appointment. If you should not appear, the trustee may ask the court to dismiss your bankruptcy case. The meeting should be short, possibly only a few minutes, but it is an important step on the way to a much brighter future in which you will no longer be laboring under overwhelming debt.