Every person or entity that files a bankruptcy petition must appear before the case trustee and testify under oath. This is called the 341 meeting and it is sometimes referred to as the first meeting of creditors. All creditors are given notice of the meeting and are invited to attend but they rarely do.
The purpose of the meeting is to allow the trustee to examine the debtor under oath concerning the assets and liabilities of the debtor. Most individual examinations take less than ten minutes. Typically five cases are scheduled every half hour.
Before examination each debtor must produce a picture ID and proof of their social security number. If you don’t have your social security card a W-2 statement, military ID, or Medicaid card is sufficient.
The Trustee will swear you in and ask some variation of the following questions:
- Have you ever filed bankruptcy before?
- Do you have any domestic support obligations?
- Is this your signature on the forms?
- Is everything contained in these forms true and correct?
- Why did you file bankruptcy
- Where are you employed?
- Have you paid anyone a total of more than $600 in the ninety days prior to the date of filing?
- Have you sold transferred or given away anything to anybody in the four years prior to filing?
- Have you paid any relative any money in the one year prior to filing?
- Have you ever owned any real estate?
- If so when did you buy it and how much did you pay for it?
- Have you listed all of your assets on the schedules?
- Are your vehicles insured?
- Have you taken any cash advances on your credit cards in the one year prior to filing?
- Have you transferred the balance on any credit card in the ninety days prior to filing?
- Are there any creditors here with any questions?
The purpose of the questions is for the trustee to verify the information provided by you on your schedules. Your attorney should be there with you and will interrupt if you go off course, however he cannot testify for you. These meetings are somewhat informal but you are testifying under the pains and penalties of perjury. You do have the right to exercise your Fifth Amendment right to not incriminate yourself but you should only do so after concurring with your bankruptcy and criminal lawyer.