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What is a 341(a) Meeting of Creditors?

The meeting of creditors is a meeting all debtors must attend in any bankruptcy proceeding as required by 11 U.S.C. § 341. The meeting of creditors is held outside the presence of the judge and usually occurs between 21 and 60 days after the filing of the petition. In chapter 7, 12, and 13 cases, the trustee assigned to the case conducts the meeting. In a chapter 11 case, a representative of the Bankruptcy Administrator's office conducts the meeting.

The meeting permits the trustee or the Bankruptcy Administrator to review the petition, schedules, and statement of financial affairs with the debtor. The debtor is required to answer questions under penalty of perjury (swearing or affirming to tell the truth) about the debtor's property, liabilities, financial condition, and any other matter that may affect the administration of the case or the debtor's right to discharge. In addition, the trustee or the Bankruptcy Administrator representative will ask questions to ensure that the debtor understands the bankruptcy process.

The 341(a) meeting is referred to as a meeting of creditors because creditors are notified that they may attend and ask the debtor questions pertaining to assets or any other matter pertinent to the administration of the case. Creditors are not required to attend these meetings and do not waive any rights if they do not attend. In a simple case, the meeting may take less than 10 minutes; in a complex case, the meeting may last much longer. The meeting may be continued if the trustee or Bankruptcy Administrator is not satisfied with the information presented.

If the debtor fails to appear and provide the information requested, the trustee or Bankruptcy Administrator may request that the case be dismissed or may seek other relief against the debtor for failure to cooperate. If the case involves spouses filing jointly, both spouses must appear at the meeting of creditors.