What is a 341 hearing?
The 341 hearing is a time for discussion of bankruptcy case before a court trustee.
One obligation of someone who has filed bankruptcy is to attend a 341 hearing before a trustee who has been appointed to consider the case in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.
The session is often referred to as a 341 meeting - named for a section of the bankruptcy code - and is usually scheduled about 30 days after the bankruptcy petition is filed.
One of the major reasons for a 341 meeting is to allow creditors an opportunity to attend and question the individual about the debts that are owed. Frequently, creditors do not attend 341 meetings in a Chapter 7 case, which is the most common form of personal bankruptcy.
At the 341 meeting, the hearing officer is the bankruptcy trustee, who asks the bulk of the questions and moderates the discussion. The setting is more informal than a courtroom - usually a conference table at which the trustee, the debtor and attorney sit across from each other while the meeting is recorded. There usually are a number of people in the audience area who have also filed bankruptcy petitions and are awaiting their turn to talk to the trustee.
"The meeting is just a way for the bankruptcy trustee to quickly and efficiently meet with many debtors to swear them in and get basic questions answered," explains Susanne Robicsek, a North Carolina attorney, on the BankruptcyLawNetwork.com. "If the bankruptcy petition was well prepared, complete and truthful, then the meeting is usually smooth and can take just a few minutes."
Some of the questions that the trustee will ask the person filing bankruptcy are required under law. Others are queries about the particular issues in the individual case, such as details about real estate owned by the debtor and whether any property has been transferred to another person in the past year.
The trustee may ask if the person has large medical bills, if they are a party in a lawsuit, if anyone owes them money or if they are entitled to any life insurance or inheritance. They are likely to be asked about any financial assets they had at the time they filed bankruptcy.
"The Office of the U.S. Trustee is always actively looking for cases to prosecute for bankruptcy fraud, so it's very important that you disclose all of your assets, liabilities and other financial information completely and accurately," writes Connecticut attorney Eugene Melchionne on the website.