If you have decided to file for bankruptcy protection, one of the first stops on your path to debt relief is the 341 meeting.

What is this meeting and how should you prepare to attend?

The meeting of creditors

Many people refer to the meeting of creditors as the 341 meeting, named for Section 341 of the United States Bankruptcy Code. This section requires debtors to attend such a meeting and answer questions under oath. If you file either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, a trustee from the Office of the United States Trustee conducts the meeting. The trustee uses this opportunity to learn more about your circumstances so as to administer your bankruptcy case in as efficient a manner as possible. The questions focus on your assets and liabilities, and you must answer under penalty of perjury.

The right to ask questions

Your creditors will receive information about the date, time and location of the 341 meeting. They are welcome to attend, but most do not; they do not waive their rights as creditors if they choose to stay away. If any creditors do come, they have the right to question you about matters related to your bankruptcy and the administration plans.

Mandatory attendance

A word of caution: You must attend the 341 meeting, or the trustee can ask the court to dismiss your bankruptcy case. The court may also hold you in contempt if you do not appear.

Preparing to attend

The 341 meeting takes place outside of court in a more informal atmosphere, and no judge is present. Your attorney, who accompanies you, provides the trustee with documents such as your bank statements, income tax returns, deeds, loan and mortgage documents, credit card debt information and anything else that is pertinent to the bankruptcy matter. The only items you need to bring are a government-issued photo ID, such as your current driver’s license, and your Social Security card, or proof of that number. The 341 meeting is usually brief, but it is an important step on the road to a stress-free financial future.