The 341 Meeting is required by section 341 of the United States Bankruptcy Code. The 341 Meeting generally is scheduled within 25 to 40 days after the debtor files the Bankruptcy Petition. Creditors may or may not attend the meeting, but attendance is not required to object to discharges or file claims. Most creditors do not attend a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy 341 Creditors' Meeting.
If the creditor chooses to attend the 341 Creditors' Meeting they may be given a specified time period to question the debtor. The trustee will also ask questions concerning all of the financial information provided on the Statement of Financial Affairs, the bankruptcy schedules and the bankruptcy petition. If issues can not be resolved at the 341 Creditors' Meeting the attendees may request a motion or an adversary proceeding (See Adversary Proceeding) to give the Bankruptcy Court additional time to review the issues.
Debtors who do not arrive promptly for the 341 Creditors' Meeting may have their meeting rescheduled or a motion to dismiss the bankruptcy case may be filed. The 341 Creditors' meeting is generally very short. The debtor's answers are given under oath and lying under oath is considered perjury which can have serious consequences. If the trustee requests additional bankruptcy documentation the information should be sent as soon as possible. The main objective of the 341 Creditors' Meeting is to give the debtor an opportunity to clearly and honestly answer questions about their assets and liabilities for the bankruptcy case.
Believe it or not, this is a common question that debtors will ask after they receive their notice to appear in court. The 341 hearing is the meeting of creditors that takes place about 30-45 days after the case has been filed. This meeting is a mandatory meeting and all debtors have to attend this hearing if they want to finish their case.
If they fail to attend the hearing, then the hearing will be reset only once and if you fail to make the 2nd hearing, then your case will be dismissed, which is not what you want. You want to receive a discharge in your case. The discharge is where the creditors can not come after you to collect and the dismissal is when they can continue to collect from you. That is why it is so important to make this meeting.
There are occasions when a Debtor is unable to attend a 341 hearing. The Trustee will usually reset a hearing once if the Debtor has a good excuse for not attending. If the Debtor fails to appear at the second hearing, the Trustee will file a Motion to Show Cause. However, in extreme circumstances, the attorney can file a motion to excuse the Debtor from the 341 hearing or a motion to conduct the 341 hearing telephonically.
The reason for such motions is usually because the Debtor has a medical condition that will not allow them to physically attend the hearing. If it is a married couple filing jointly, many times the Trustee will allow one Debtor to be excused and allow the other Debtor to testify to the extend of their finances. This is based on the theory that both Debtors are fully aware of each others financial situation and the healthy Debtor can testify to all the assets, income, creditors, etc of the Debtor unable to attend.
The Trustee would prefer to conduct the hearing telephonically. If a telephonic hearing is conducted, the Debtor is responsible for having a notary present to verify their Social Security number and their driver's license. Once the identity of the Debtor has been established, the notary must swear the Debtor. Again, the motions are only approved in extreme circumstances and not just because the Debtor doesn't want to attend the hearing or can't get off work. It is almost always due to a medical condition that prevents the Debtor from being able to attend the hearing.