The "Meeting of Creditors" also called the 341 meeting is an administrative hearing held at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, which debtors (persons who files for bankruptcy) must attend after filing for bankruptcy. It is called the meeting of creditors because technically creditors are allowed to attend and ask questions of debtors, but its primary purpose is for the Trustee (an attorney appointed by the Court) to ask certain questions of the debtor to determine that he or she fully disclosed all of his or her assets, liabilities, budget information and relevant historical events. Despite the name, creditors rarely appear.
This meeting generally takes place 30 to 40 days after the case is filed. The average meeting from my experience takes about four to six minutes. Not much preparation is necessary as most of the answers should be things you know off your head. Any important points will be gone over just prior to the meeting. Everything you are questioned about should already be on the paperwork that we carefully prepared.
Debtors should dress in a respectful manner but do not need to be dressed up in their finest clothes. It's best to wear long pants or skirts or dresses (not shorts or flip flops). If you are coming from work or on your way to work, the trustee will understand if you are in a uniform. Males should remove hats when entering the Trustee's room.
If you live in Lake, Cuyahoga, Lorain or Geauga counties, you will go to the 6th floor of 201 Superior Ave., Cleveland, OH 44114 and sit in the waiting area with other people waiting their turn*. There is a form on a desk in the waiting area which all debtors are required to read. You must have your driver's license and social security card in your hand while you wait for your case to be called. Keep in mind that the trustees have many cases in a day and if they need to spend an extra minute with each debtor while he or she fishes for their license or social security card, that trustee can be stuck in court an extra hour and half and all the cases will get behind.
There are usually 3 trustees per day calling cases. When your trustee calls your case, he or she will generally call several cases at the same time. This is because it is more efficient for the trustee to make general announcements to the entire group and because it usually makes the cases go more smoothly when debtors are allowed to listen to the questions and answers of the people called ahead of them. If you are called first in the group, you won't have the luxury of getting to hear how things went for the previously called case . . . but you will get out faster. It may feel uncomfortable to know that other people are listening to your question and answer session, but keep in mind that the rest of the people are just as nervous as you are and are focused on what's going to happen with them. The likelihood of you knowing the other people is very slim and besides, if they are there, they are in the same position that you are.
*The Akron and Jefferson trustees hold the meetings privately.