The 341/Creditor's Meeting
By: Julie Koenig
Normally you will only be required to attend one 341 meeting - in rare circumstances the Trustee will continue the meeting for additional information. The meeting takes place in downtown Houston on the third floor of the Federal Courthouse located at 515 Rusk Avenue, Houston, Texas 77002. Finding the Courthouse is easy - it's the ugliest building in downtown Houston. As you come down Rusk Avenue, you will see a 12 story building on your left with a flat roof and small square windows all over it - that's our Federal Courthouse. It was built as a bomb shelter and did not flood even during Allison!
Before the Federal Courthouse on either side of the street is the entrance to the underground parking lot - it says Theater District parking but that is where you park. Beware - it is a split level, 6 level underground parking garage that handles parking for the Federal Courthouse, City Hall, Bayou Place, the Alley Theater, Sarofim Hall, and any other function and/or entertainment site in that area. Each floor has its number ie. Level One, Two, etc. Please remember what level you are on so you can find your car afterwards. This is where the panic button on you key comes in handy - to find your car!
In order to get into the Federal Courthouse you must show your picture identification and go through metal detectors. For the Trustee you must show your picture identification and your social security card to insure that you are, in fact, the Debtor and that your social security number is properly entered into the Bankruptcy Court system.
The Trustee conducts between 3 & 5 meetings per half hour. Sometimes they are on time and sometimes they are late. Regardless of the time your meeting is set, please allow ½ day for the total time at the Courthouse. Creditor meetings usually begin at 9:30 a.m and continue on the half hour until approximately 2 - 4 p.m. There is an information sheet put out by the Trustee that you are required to read. It is located in a plastic box located on one of the walls in the waiting area. Please grab a copy and read it while you are waiting.
When your meeting is called, we will go into a small conference room and sit at the table with the Trustee. If not already checked by the Trustee's paralegal, the Trustee will want to see your picture identification and social security card so please be sure to have them handy. There is also a sign in sheet where you will print your name and list your telephone number.
The Trustee will swear you in, ask you to state your name for the record, and ask a series of questions. The meeting is being recorded so you must speak up and verbally answer each question. Examples of the types of questions the Trustee is liable to ask are:
Did you review the schedules and statement of financial affairs with your attorney prior to signing them?
- Did you sign them?
- Did you list all of your assets and all of your debts?
- Is everything true and correct?
- Do you have any changes at this time?
- At the time that you filed, did anyone owe you any money? Did you have a lawsuit on file against someone or the right to file a lawsuit against someone?
- Have you set up a trust for anyone?
- Has anyone set up a trust on your behalf?
- Do you owe anyone child support?
- Did your attorney explain the effect of receiving a discharge and the effect that has on your credit report?
- Did your attorney explain that you could have filed under a different chapter of the bankruptcy code?
- Did your attorney explain the affect of reaffirming a debt?
When the Trustee is finished asking questions, any creditor or, in limited circumstances, a representative of the U.S. Trustee's office, is allowed to ask you questions - but they are limited to the information set forth on your schedules and statement of financial affairs. If a creditor tries to vary from those documents, that is why I am there - to stop them. Few creditors other than ex-spouses and ex-business partners ever show up at the 341 meeting.
Once all questions have been answered, the Trustee has a few options. If he or she is satisfied that they have all of the information they need, they can conclude the meeting. If he or she requires additional information, the meeting will be continued for a period of 2 weeks. Often, if the Trustee asks for additional information and you provide it to us well in advance of the continued 341 meeting, you will not have to attend the continued meeting. At the conclusion of the meeting, the Trustee can close it as a no-asset case or hold it open for asset recovery. If it is closed as a no asset case it means the Trustee is satisfied that you can keep (exempt) everything that you own and there is nothing further for the Trustee to do except close your case. If you have non-exempt assets that the Trustee can sell, the Trustee will keep the case open to sell those assets. Even if the Trustee keeps your case open, you are essentially finished with the bankruptcy process except for certain Federally mandated waiting periods.
The first mandatory waiting period is 30 days from the conclusion of your creditor’s meeting to allow any party in interest or the Trustee to object to your exemptions. If you have questionable exemptions, Ms. Koenig will inform you prior to filing your case and discuss how to handle them. Usually the only person that will object to your exemptions is the Trustee and that is only on rare occasions!
The second mandatory waiting period is 60 days from the date first set for your creditor’s meeting to allow any creditor to object to the discharge of their particular debt or to allow any creditor, the Trustee, or the United States Trustee to object to your entire discharge - but only under very limited circumstances. An objection to the discharge of a particular debt includes, but is not limited to:
- Money, property or services obtained through fraud or a false financial statement;
- Fraud in a fiduciary capacity - ie - you embezzled from your boss & have to pay it back!;
- Personal injury or property damage caused from driving or operating a mechanized vehicle while drunk or otherwise impaired;
- For willful and malicious injury to an individual or their property; etc.
Certain debts are rarely or never dischargeable which include but are not limited to:
- IRS taxes due and owing within 3 years of the bankruptcy filing;
- Alimony, maintenance or child support;
- Property division from a divorce;
- Most student loans;
- Governmental restitution.
These creditors do not have to file anything with the Court - the debts are automatically not discharged.
An objection to the entry of your entire discharge is even more limited and includes, but is not limited to:
- Failure to provide for your loss of assets;
- Failure to accurately list all of your assets;
- False testimony at your 341 meeting; and,
- False testimony to your Judge.
At Cooper & Scully, Ms. Koenig and Ms. Garcia work very hard to ensure that your Schedules and Statement of Financial Affairs are extremely accurate to avoid such circumstances.
We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.