It’s very common for clients filing for personal bankruptcy to worry about the 341 Meeting of Creditors. It’s the first “event” in a bankruptcy case and the first time for most clients to actually go to court. (Though it’s usually the only time the client needs to go to court in a bankruptcy case.)
A 341 meeting of creditors also sounds very formal and serious, and it conjures up images of being trapped in a room with angry, impatient creditors. But the reality is that for individual debtors filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy in New York, it’s just you, your lawyer and the trustee — and a room full of other debtors and their lawyers waiting to see the trustee. As for creditors, generally they do not attend these meetings. In other words, most likely you go in with a 2-on-1 advantage. (Note: In Chapter 11 cases, both personal and corporate, the 341 Meeting of Creditors tends to be a more substantive event.)
The meeting should only take a few minutes if your bankruptcy lawyer has done his or her job well in advance of the meeting. The trustee will ask you a few questions to get some basic information on the record so that the case can move forward. This is not to downplay the significance of the 341 meeting of creditors, on which the fate of your case can turn. The distinction is that the pressure is not on you but rather on your attorney to do a good job of preparing. As long as you’ve selected an experienced and diligent bankruptcy attorney in New York, everything should proceed smoothly.
There are many, many people filing bankruptcy in New York, and the trustee’s main objective is to work through the cases as efficiently and effectively as possible. That’s not to say they don’t look at everything closely or notice red flags. But as mentioned above, it all turns on proper preparation.
If you are contemplating filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in New York or filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in New York, please feel free to contact me for a free initial bankruptcy consultation. I’ll be happy to sit down and answer all of your questions about the timetable for the case, the 341 meeting of creditors and any other questions you have to make sure you are aware of all of your options.
Lastly, below the jump is a list of common questions asked by a bankruptcy trustee. These are not the only questions a trustee may ask, but it’s a good starting point, and it comes straight from 341 of the Bankruptcy Code.
1. Do you own or have any interest whatsoever in any real estate?
If owned: When did you purchase the property? How much did the property cost? What are the mortgages encumbering it? What do you estimate the present value of the property to be? Is that the whole value or your share? How did you arrive at that value?
If renting: Have you ever owned the property in which you live and/or is its owner in any way related to you?
2. Have you made any transfers of any property or given any property away within the last two year period? (Note: The look back period is 6 years under New York State law.)
If yes: What did you transfer? To whom was it transferred? What did you receive in exchange? What did you do with the funds?
3. Does anyone hold property belonging to you?
If yes: Who holds the property and what is it? What is its value?
4. Do you have a claim against anyone or any business?
If there are large medical debts, are the medical bills from injury?
Are you the plaintiff in any lawsuit?
What is the status of each case and who is representing you?
5.Are you entitled to life insurance proceeds or an inheritance as a result of someone’s death?
If yes: Please explain the details.
If you become a beneficiary of anyone’s estate within six months of the date your bankruptcy petition was filed, the trustee must be advised within ten days through your counsel of the nature and extent of the property you will receive. FRBP 1007(h)
6. Does anyone owe you money?
If yes: Is the money collectible? Why haven’t you collected it? Who owes the money and where are they?
7. Have you made any large payments, over $600, to anyone in the past year?
8. Were federal income tax returns filed on a timely basis? When was the last return filed?
Do you have copies of the federal income tax returns? At the time of the filing of your petition, were you entitled to a tax refund from the federal or state government ?
If yes: Inquire as to amounts.
9. Do you have a bank account, either checking or savings?
If yes: In what banks and what were the balances as of the date you filed your petition?
10. When you filed your petition, did you have:
a. any cash on hand?
b. any U.S. savings bonds?
c. any other stocks or bonds?
d. any certificates of deposit?
e. a safe deposit box in your name or in anyone else’s name?
11. Do you own an automobile?
If yes: What is the year, make, and value? Do you owe any money on it? Is it insured?
12. Are you the owner of any cash value life insurance policies?
If yes: State the name of the company, face amount of the policy, cash surrender value, if any, and the beneficiaries.
13. Do you have any winning lottery tickets?
14. Do you anticipate that you might realize any property, cash or otherwise, as a result of a divorce or separation proceeding?
15. Have you been engaged in any business during the last six years?
If yes: Where and when? What happened to the assets of the business?
Go to nybankruptcy.net to learn more about Rosenberg Musso & Weiner LLP and/or to set up a free consultation with experienced bankruptcy attorney Bruce Weiner.