Every debtor who files Chapter 7 in the Northern District of Georgia is required to attend a brief meeting of creditors hearing that will be scheduled about 30 days after filing. This hearing is also called a “341 hearing” because Section 341 of the Bankruptcy Code requires all debtors to attend this type of hearing.
341 hearings are very informal, and will last only about 5 to 10 minutes. No judge is present – instead, your 341 hearing will be presided over by your Chapter 7 trustee. Creditors may also attend and they will be given a chance to ask you questions. Usually the creditor law firms will send paralegals to attend these hearings and obtain information from you about insurance or your contact information.
There are a few things you need to do to prepare for your 341 hearing:
- review your Chapter 7 petition, especially the budget (Schedules I & J) – the trustee will ask you questions about your filing and while you don’t need to have your petition memorized you should be familiar with the information contained therein
- make sure to bring two (2) separate forms of identification. You must bring a picture ID like a driver’s license or passport, and you must bring a government or insurance company issued ID that contains your full Social Security number (not just the last 4 digits). If you do not bring your ID’s then the trustee will make you come back with those ID’s
- make sure to provide your lawyer with a copy of last year’s federal tax return – this must be submitted to the trustee a week before your hearing
- if you own a house or car that you want to keep, you will need to bring proof of your insurance coverage. The trustee usually does not ask for this but the creditor representative will
- get your driving directions and parking plans set out ahead of time. The Federal Building (where your hearing will be held) often has long security lines. Parking around the federal building can be expensive (take public transportation if available). If your hearing is scheduled for 1:30, don’t expect to park at 1:25 and be on time. Plan to arrive at least 30 minutes early so you can watch the prior hearing calendar to spot any areas of concern.
The main thing to remember about 341 hearings is this: nothing final happens at these hearings. In the unlikely event that the trustee has any objections or concerns, you and your lawyer will have plenty of time to deal with those problems. Most of the time, once the 341 is over, you will not have to return to court.