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You may be struggling with a large burden of debt and are beginning to think bankruptcy is the best solution for you and your family.

You have narrowed your choices down to either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 and have heard the term “341 meeting.” You wonder what that is and if it applies to both types of bankruptcy filings.

Part of the process

It has a rather secretive ring, but the fact is that the so-called “341 meeting” gets its name from Section 341, Title 11, of the United States Bankruptcy Code. It is also known as the “meeting of creditors” because that is exactly what happens. The meeting is part of the process for both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies. A trustee appointed to your case by the United States Trustee will conduct this hearing, which occurs in a less formal environment outside of the courtroom.

Who is involved

Your bankruptcy attorney will accompany you to the hearing, which usually only lasts for a few minutes. Your creditors will be notified of the meeting and told they may attend, but they rarely do. Their absence has no bearing on their claims, however. The main reason for the 341 meeting is for the trustee to review your petition as the debtor. You must answer the trustee’s questions under penalty of perjury, and these might include questions about your financial condition, the property you own and other related subjects. Your answers will help the trustee to administer your case efficiently.

The need to cooperate

Your attorney will emphasize that if you should fail to appear at the 341 meeting, the trustee can ask the court to dismiss your case. If you do not cooperate in providing information as requested by the trustee, you could be held in contempt of court. Remember that your attorney will be present to support you. Think of the 341 meeting as an important step in getting out from under your debt and moving ahead to a better life.