The 341 Meeting of Creditors is a required hearing in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases in Michigan.
For many, the 341 Meeting of Creditors is the only hearing that they will be required to attend.
However, it is a mandatory requirement that you do attend your 341 Meeting.
Missing or skipping your 341 Meeting of Creditors will result in a dismissal of your Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy case in Detroit, Ann Arbor, Flint, Saginaw, Bay City, Lansing, Grand Rapids, or elsewhere in Michigan.
What happens at the 341 Meeting of Creditors? Why is it called that? Do creditors actually meet there? Who else is likely to attend?
This Article will answer these questions about your 341 Meeting—and more.
What Happens at the 341 Meeting of Creditors?
The 341 Meeting of Creditors is an opportunity for parties in interest in your Michigan Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy case to ask you questions on the record.
“On the record” means that the hearing is recorded. A transcript of the questions and your answers is generated from that recording. It is available to anyone for a fee for use in later litigation in your bankruptcy case.
Prior to Your 341 Meeting of Creditors
Prior to your 341 Meeting, your Michigan bankruptcy attorney will have scanned, redacted, and turned over to the Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Trustee everything that the Trustee (and the Bankruptcy Code) requires.
If you have filed your bankruptcy on your own, without a lawyer, you will have failed to do this and, likely, your 341 Meeting will be canceled, adjourned, and your case eventually dismissed should you continue to fail to do this.
(Hire a bankruptcy attorney. Unless you want to have to do this 3 or 4 times rather than once.)
That said, at your 341 Meeting of Creditors, your Metro Detroit bankruptcy lawyer will meet you to give you preliminary instructions.
If your lawyer has asked you to bring any documentation with you not previously turned, you will be asked for it. Your attorney will then discuss with you what is about to happen, as described below, in this Article.
You’ll have a chance to ask question and get the lay of the land, in other words, before your 341 Meeting of Creditors actually begins.
If your lawyer has instructed you to arrive 30 minutes early, be sure to do that.
If you don’t, you’ll get the 2-second version of the “what’s going to happen” conversation. If you show up late, your 341 Meeting may be canceled or adjourned. You’ll need to take time off work or arrange a ride for a second trip—and your lawyer will probably charge for the unnecessary rescheduling.
Assuming that doesn’t happen, however, after this chat, you will, together, enter the hearing room or area to await your turn on the docket.
During the 341 Meeting of Creditors
Once you enter your 341 Meeting hearing area, you will sit in the “peanut gallery” and await your turn. All cases in your 30-minute docket “window” with your particular Trustee will be there together, hearing everything everyone says.
This sounds creepy, but it’s useful. There may be 12-15 341 Meetings held at your docket-time. You will, if you show up early enough, have a chance to watch other debtors’ 341 Meetings come and go while you wait (unless you’re first on the docket).
You will be able to get a handle on your Trustee’s style and attitude, level of general hostility toward debtors, and the order in which “routine” questions are asked.
When it is your turn, the Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Trustee (or Chapter 13 Trustee’s Staff Attorney or Paralegal) will then call your name and case-number.
You will be seated, and the Trustee (or other) will swear you in, with the tape recorder running. You will be asked to affirm the following (among other things):
- Your name;
- Whether you have disclosed all of your creditors;
- Whether you have disclosed all of your assets;
- Whether you have read and understood the Bankruptcy Information Sheet;
- Anything else the Trustee wants you to affirm up-front.
Chapter 13 Trustees in particular (especially in Detroit) will ask you a series of up to 25 or so different questions before continuing. These questions include your marital status, name of your employer, how frequently you are paid, and so on.
After this, the Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Trustee will then ask you specific questions. This will last anywhere from 5 or 10 minutes in the typical Chapter 7 341 Meeting of Creditors to up to 30 minutes or more in an atypical Chapter 13 Meeting of Creditors.
Be prepared to be there a few hours, in short, and then count yourself lucky if you’re done in 30 minutes (including waiting time).
When the Trustee is done asking questions, any creditors present can then do the same.
Often, creditor do not show up. This does not mean that they don’t continue to have the right to object to your discharge or file motions of various sorts in your case, however.
If you owe money to a credit union, their attorneys will always show up.
341 Meeting Protocol: Who Must Speak? What to Wear?
You are required to answer the questions yourself. Your Michigan bankruptcy attorney cannot testify on your behalf. (We will, however, intercede if the questioning become abusive.)
You do not have to address the Trustee as “Your Honor.” They are not judges. “Ms. or Mr. Trustee” or “Sir” or “Ma’am” are fine if you feel the need to be respectful.
All questions should be answered as asked, fully, and honestly. You will be under legal penalty of perjury. Anything you say, right or wrong, will end up in the hearing transcript.
Your bankruptcy attorney will advise as to his or her specific instructions for answering questions, especially if you’re not sure of the answer, prior to the hearing.
What should you wear to the 341 Meeting?
You don’t need to wear a suit. The 341 Meeting of Creditors is not a judicial hearing. It’s also not a job interview or a funeral.
It is appropriate to dress neatly but casually. You don’t do yourself, or your case, any favors showing up in a t-shirt with a swastika on it.
How about jewelry or bling? Talk to your bankruptcy lawyer. Whatever you wear of value, it had been have been disclosed, valued, and exempted in your bankruptcy petition.
Where Is the 341 Meeting of Creditor Held?
Since COVID, most 341 Meetings have been held telephonically or via Zoom. As of this writing, this is still the case at least in the Eastern District of Michigan Bankruptcy Courts.
However, normally, this is not the case. And it could cease to be the case at any time, with the quick signature of an Order of the Eastern and Western District Bankruptcy Court Chief Judges.
For the sake of this Article, we will presume that the remote 341 Meeting option will not last forever. (Although, frankly, everyone prefers it, including Trustees.)
Depending upon the location of the court in which your Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 case is filed, your 341 Meeting will be held in different geographical locations.
Sometimes, the 341 Meeting is held in the same location as the actual bankruptcy court. But not always.
For example, if you live in Washtenaw County, yours will be a “Detroit” bankruptcy case. Contested hearings (before a judge) and Chapter 13 341 Meetings are held in the US Bankruptcy Court at 211 W. Fort St., in Detroit.
However, if you live in Washtenaw County and file a Chapter 7 case, your 341 Meeting of Creditors will be held in downtown Ann Arbor, in the Federal Court building on Liberty Street.
In Michigan, 341 Meetings are held in the following cities:
- Ann Arbor
- Bay City
- Grand Rapids
- Traverse City
Who Is Present at the 341 Meeting of Creditors?
We’ve mentioned a few of the key players, so far, but here is the complete roster of potential possible attendees.
- Your Livonia bankruptcy attorney;
- A Chapter 7 Trustee; or
- A Chapter 13 Trustee; or
- The Chapter 13 Trustee’s Staff Attorney or Paralegal;
- Your creditors or creditors’ attorney;
- Everyone else with a 341 Meeting scheduled that day;
- Your friend, spouse, mother—anyone else to support you.
Yes, you are welcome to bring someone to lean on with you. The 341 Meeting of Creditors is a public hearing. However, space is limited, so no need to bring your entire extended family or church board of directors.
Likewise, do yourself, your bankruptcy lawyer, and everyone else in the room a favor and find a sitter for your kids. The 341 Meeting of Creditors is sometimes long, always boring, and always crowded.
Chapter 7 Trustees in particular are unamused and unmoved by adorable and precocious children.
Leave them at home.
What Do I Need to Bring to the 341 Meeting of Creditors?
You will need to bring, first of all, anything that your Michigan bankruptcy attorney tells you to bring.
This will vary from case to case, but it could include documentation such as further bank statements, a recently filed tax return, or the title to your car.
Otherwise, you will absolutely, always, and without fail need to bring the following items:
- Your driver’s license or other US government picture ID;
- Your Social Security Card.
If you show up to your 341 Meeting of Creditors without either of these things, your hearing will be adjourned, full stop.
What Will My Michigan Bankruptcy Lawyer Do?
If everything is going well at your 341 Meeting of Creditors, it may seem as though your bankruptcy lawyer is not actually doing very much.
You are required to answer the questions asked. You are required to bring your own Social Security Card. You are required to affirm that you’ve read the Bankruptcy Information Sheet (after having actually read it, naturally).
Is it the case that you are doing all of the work and that your Metro Detroit bankruptcy attorney is not doing anything?
If it seems this way, it’s because you, with the advice and direction of your lawyer, have done everything right up through the date of the 341 Meeting.
Your bankruptcy attorney will have given you a lengthy questionnaire to complete. Your lawyer will have provided you with a long list of documentation required.
You will have done a good providing that information and documentation.
Your bankruptcy attorney then used that information and documentation to fully draft your bankruptcy petition. You then reviewed it for accuracy—and signed it under penalty of perjury.
Nothing was missed. You disclosed everything properly.
Further, your bankruptcy attorney, within a required timeframe, will have provided all of that documentation to the Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Trustee prior to the 341 Meeting of Creditors.
Perhaps no creditors show up to ask you any questions at all. That’s not unusual.
If this is the case—and you brought your ID and Social Security card—your Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Trustee will have little to do at your 341 Meeting other than ask the “usual” questions.
And your attorney will have little to do but recite what needs to be recited, ask whatever introductory questions are required, and smile pleasantly.
The “calm” 341 Meeting of Creditors that doesn’t get adjourned, doesn’t result in a case dismissal, and doesn’t confuse or frustrate you is what you pay a competent, experienced bankruptcy attorney to deliver for you.
It’s a two-way street. You have to do your part. But, if you do, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.
What Happens After the 341 Meeting?
If all goes well at the 341 Meeting of Creditors and your Trustee doesn’t want any additional documentation from you, your hearing will be “concluded” on the court’s docket.
If you’ve filed a Chapter 7 case, your discharge will be entered 60 days after the conclusion of the 341 Meeting of Creditors, if no creditor, US Trustee, or Chapter 7 Trustee contests your right to a discharge.
Your case will, thereafter, close or, if the Chapter 7 Trustee is liquidating some property, remain administratively open until that is finished.
If you filed a Chapter 13 case, you move on in the process, toward your Confirmation Hearing.
Michigan Bankruptcy & the 341 Meeting of Creditors
As you can see, the 341 Meeting of Creditors is a complicated process—but a predictable one. Having an experienced, service-oriented Metro Detroit bankruptcy attorney at your side will help to maximize the odds that your 341 Meeting is quick and painless—and does not have to be held twice.
The Hilla Law Firm has successfully represented hundreds of clients through Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy processes in Michigan.
Offering free, virtual consultations and friendly, one-on-one service from Livonia bankruptcy attorney John Hilla, we will ensure that your matter is handled properly, competently—and with kindness.