Section 341 Bankruptcy Meeting: Wow, That Was Awkward


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I had my “meeting of creditors” today in US bankruptcy court.

One word to describe the whole thing?

Awkward

You’re in this room with a dozen other “debtors” and the awkwardness is as thick as pea soup. I think my meeting with the trustee went fine, in fact, it was not nearly as stressful as I thought it might be.

Payments to Family

I figured the payments to my mother might come up, and they did. When I explained why I send money each month, he replied, “She must have raised you right”. And that was the end of it. I nearly cried. He could have chosen to maybe go after my mother, but I don’t see that happening based on his response.

Back to the awkwardness…

So, there is this (attractive) girl with her lawyer there. All I can think is, “I wonder how she ended up here…” Likely she was thinking the same about myself. The rest of the debtors were mostly middle-aged, and everyone looked nervous.

341 Meeting

I’m glad this 341 meeting thing is done. Assuming no other hangups, my Chapter 7 bankruptcy should be done in a few months. I still need to do the online financial education part, but I’m pretty sure that will be a piece of cake.

I got a little emotional once I got back to my car. Just one more stop along my journey…

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  • allthingsgood

    sounds interesting. if you find the interest and time to describe what happens in such a meeting in more detail, and what your particular meeting was like, that would be of great interest–to me, at least.

  • http://www.debtkid.com debt kid

    I was pretty prepared. I had read about this meeting before, so I knew what to expect. My lawyer also prepped me well.

    Here’s how mine went down…

    1. Show up 15 minutes before your appt. time. Meet with Laywer
    2. Make sure and bring your social security card and Driver’s License
    3. Go into a conference type room with pew type benches. Trustee make a few opening remarks to about a dozen other debtors + lawyers.
    5. one by one, each debtor goes up and sits with the Trustee
    6. It was really easy to hear every conversation from the peanut gallery (it is also recorded, so we were asked to speak up)
    7. When your turn is up, you approach the trustee. He/She will swear you in. You sit down. Your lawyer sits next to you.
    8. Trustee will ask a serious of have to ask questions, “did you read this document?” “has anything changed since you filed?” “is everything true that you filed”? etc.
    9. Once the Trustee gets through those questions, you might be dismissed right there and you’re done (I saw one person that had this happen).
    10. If you have any potentially interesting items on your filing, the trustee will ask about those.
    11. In my case, he asked about the short sale of my house, my business, and the payments to my mother. Then I was dismissed.

    45 minutes of waiting around for about 2 minutes of actual somewhat stress. Just smile and realize that you can get through it….

  • http://www.moneydork.com Eric

    Good job man. I know it feels like your entire finanical life is being looked at, and then you’re being judged. You feel like every person in the room is looking down on you. In the end, everyone has ups, everyone has downs. You can only know and appreciate the sweet, if you’ve had a little sour, right?

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  • Dutch

    Why didn’t you get the girls number?

  • http://iandenny.blogspot.com/ Ian Denny

    I found the experience very similar. Some slight differences. Firstly, I was winding up a company – a liquidation where creditors are invited to attend too.

    Secondly, it was in the UK where there are lots of similarities in bankruptcy and liquidations but equally differences.

    I guess the similarities were the lead-up to it. That was pretty stressful. Especially the bit before where I was being briefed on the awkward questions that creditors would potentially fire at me in an attempt to create guilt and an admission that just wasn’t the truth.

    In the end, it was all over with very quickly. While 4 creditors turned up, there were no tricky questions, just procedural stuff.

    Thankfully the whole thing has turned around dramatically. The busness failed, we have all since avoided bankruptcy on the personal side, and the new business is thriving.

    I’ve found that fretting about stuff when things are really bad and instead tuning into the good things in your life can get you there in the end.

    Admitedly, it’s slow at first, but if you keep doing it, bounce back when you have a mental lapse, then eventually the bad stuff starts disappearing to be replaced by the good stuff you’ve been spending your time on.

  • Kevin

    I’m curious — will you be able to keep making payments to your mother?

  • http://www.debtkid.com debt kid

    Yes, I should be able to keep making payments to my Mother. The trustee did ask about these, but seemed OK with them (even saying “she must have raised you right”).

  • http://www.moneydork.com Eric

    Hey DK,
    So DK, have you thought any more about running or trying to substitute fitness goals for some of the stress you’ve absorbed this past year?

  • http://www.mydebtblog.com Jim ~ mydebtblog.com

    I can’t imagine what a bankruptcy feels like going through. Debt creates so much pressure that the bankruptcy must have felt like the weight went away. Even though it is a permeate mark, like a tattoo, you’re still here to move forward with the past behind you. Pay back your mom and keep your business strong.

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  • (Not So) Peachy

    Hey DK, Thank you for your blog. I really appreciate what you have shared!

    I am just starting the process of BK, with nearly 200K in unsecured debt, personally guaranteed business loans, and vendor accounts. It all added up to the point where it just didn’t make sense to continue. The more we borrowed [hello? the business isn't breaking even!] the higher our overhead. DUH! I guess that for most people reading this, it’s probably too late for them as well, but what I have learned is that working hard is not always enough (especially when borrowing is involved). I had so much faith in myself and in my work ethic; it didn’t cross my mind that we would not make it, or that taking on all of that debt would ultimately sink what was a decent little business. Also, instead of admitting to ourselves that we were failing, we just kept borrowing to float it out, thinking “that’s what you have to do when you start a business!” I was borrowing when I should have been looking at why we weren’t breaking even: Overspending on payroll, rent, vehicles, etc; things that I eventually cut, but too late. And it is true that when it’s not YOUR cash, you don’t pay as close attention.

    I read a funny quote recently, I hope it’s okay to put it here. I think it probably applies to a lot of your readers. It was:”If you fail, try again. Then quit. No sense in being a damn fool about it!” Some things just can’t be saved, no matter how good your attitude, no matter how hard you work.

    Anyway, it is so nice to know what to expect in more detail. I have never posted a reply before, and I know that this one is rather late, (and long, sorry!) but thank you for sharing!!! Thanks for the break down of the 341 meeting too. You are doing a great thing by sharing your experience. Did I say thank you? :o )

  • Sharon

    Thanks for the info on the 341 meeting…ours is tomorrow and I was scared to death until I read your blog.

  • http://www.21stCenturyDad.com Elliott

    I'm about to leave the house in 15 minutes to go to my 341 meeting. Thanks for the heads-up!

  • ann

    I just had my creditor meeting today. I was terrified! I’ll get to the specifics in a minute. However, the thing that helped me most was: I THOUGHT the trustee was going to basicly decide then and there if your bankruptcy would be approved or not. That is NOT the case. My attorney told me that is a common mis-conception and NOT the case. The trustee is just looking for money or other “hidden” assets. If you don’t have any, you’re fine. Now for the PROBLEM. Actually, it was o.k. But, what happened was: The trustee was 2 hours behind and my attorney had to leave! He left me with another attornye – absolutely ZILCH help! Didn’t even say one word. Anyway, when I got up there, the trustee did not have most of the docs he needed! I don’t know what happened because I sent them to my attorney. BUT, LUCKILY I brought everything with me and had hard copies. I offered them up to him and allowed him to keep them. I believe that “saved” me. Because, at first I was going to have to come back for a 2nd hearing. However, he decided I did not have to do that because “it wasn’t really my fault or something I needed to take care of…” Whew! However, something I learned….I signed docs at the end of hte day before I got my direct deposti. I believe it was actually “filed” the next day. So, when he looked at my bank statment, there was a $2000 discrepency! Thus, he said I did not have to come back but this WAS an asset case for the $2000. YUCK! My attorney thinks it is a paperwork issue and will be fine. He had me sign somehting this evening and is faxing it to the trustee. I just hope it is all done! VERY emotional and stressful! But, all in all…o.k. A note or two…make SURE you bring ALL paperwork JUST IN CASE and make sure you do not file ANY time near your payday! I “hope” mine is all done now….I still don’t really understand what happens next. Keep me posted if this kind of thing happened to anyone else!

  • chicago

    I am in the middle of taking up my free evaluations with different lawyers and trying to get more info on the whole process. I may not need to go through with it but there is a chance that I wil be laidoff in 3 weeks. If that happens, there is no way I will be able to keep up with and payoff what i owe, unfortunately. I already know I will lose my home, I am in the middle of preparing for that as best as anyone can, basically packing things away and getting things in order as best i can. throwing away what’s not needed, etc… I figure, if it does turn out that i will not have to go through with this, atleast the house will be cleaner and the papers I have better organized.

    Anyway, I wish everyone luck and enjoy reading up on how everyone is doing. it really does help.

    I will keep you all posted.

  • seattle

    What if your husband filed bankruptcy before you were married back in 1990 – you didn’t tell your attorney he had filed before, becuase you thought you didn’t have to disclose that since it was so many years ago. Now, at our 341 meeting, and we are asked if you’ve ever filed before???? WHAT DO WE SAY?

  • Missouri

    Hi – I really appreciated reading everyone’s comments above. My husband and I are in the process of Ch 7 filing, and our hearing is scheduled for July 31. Bankruptcy is somewhere I had hoped never to be – I, too, thought that with my work ethic I could get where we needed to go. My husband has the same work ethic and drive, but a job is the key factor here – he is continuing to search for consistent full-time employment for going on 7 months now.
    Although probably an odd question, is there any such things as “bankruptcy support groups”? I ask because I am having a very hard time coming to terms with the fact that this is the step we had to take and how to get past this. I figure that hanging on to the guilt and shame will only hold me back from getting to the right place going forward, so it would be nice to be able to talk through this with others who are like-minded and ready for the right future. We are following Dave Ramsey’s process – we are “snowballing” our student debt and car payments, create a budget every month to “tell our money where to go”, and are living as frugally as possible. (It is kind of fun to try to see how far you can get $50 on groceries – lots of creative meals!)
    Anyway, thanks for reading, and I appreciate any suggestions or recommendations.

  • lynn

    am getting ready to go to the chapter 7- 341 trustee meeting in 10 days. I received a letter from the trustees office that i have a scheduled phone conversation with the trustee on a set date, before the meeting. I am scared to death that i may say something wrong, what is this all about.
    Also i have since my petition was filed rcvd a check from where i retired from in january for leave hours never used. Is this something i need to address with the trustee? Also my husband has 3 cashiers checks for another apt where he is at for health purposes to move me up where he is working after our 341 meeting. Does the trustee need to know about this also?
    I heard somewhere if you do no disclose any monies you may have that you may be arrested on the spot for fraud.
    Like i said, if there is anyone with some answers for me please help. And can someone tell me why im having a phone conversation 1 week before our 341 meeting?
    Thanks.

  • Pete

    You don’t have an attorney to answer these simple questions? Lordy, aint you in a world of hurt.

  • jeanie

    I too was overly optimistic and thought if I just worked hard enough, I’d be ok. Unfortunately, that’s not always true. Sometimes things are beyond your control. For example, my ex-husband of 13 years became addicted to coke – he took the bills out of the mail before I got home from work, was careful to make dinner and serve potent martinis and when I went to bed, he went out looking for crack … My first clue was when I saw that there were 2 BP gas station charges on my card on the same day. He actually had the gall to take my credit cards at night and gas up his tank so he could drive to NYC and score. Imagine: a tall surfer-lookin’ dude playing country music in his pick-up truck at midnight while driving to Harlem 2 hours downstate.

    Anyway, I thought I could change him – I thought I was duty-bound by vows to do so. So, I found another job in another state, the company paid for our relocation, I forgave hubby his weaknesses, etc., and then – horribly – found him doing the exact same thing. Stupid. $30K in debt, thank you very much.

    Sometimes you just have to give up and say, “I made a mistake” and “can I start over?!”

    I was so humiliated and ashamed about (1) being an idiot for standing by him and (2) filing for bankruptcy. I put it off as long as I could – I went through all of my savings when I got laid off – I tried suicide (overdose) thinking my new hubby didn’t deserve all this baggage.

    I learned something from that last experience – life IS precious. Get over the shame and the guilt and get a good lawyer – and just keep thinking – “these are all just pieces of paper”.

    For some reason, when 9/11 happened I remember seeing all those pieces of paper lying about the streets and falling in shredded pieces from the sky. This process is just filing pieces of paper. Put your ego on hold and do it. YOU are worth more than just that confetti.

    Oops, heading downtown for my 341. Thanks for the blog. It helps. J

  • Sparkey

    I could not believe that I needed to file for bancputcy. I fell sick back in Feb. and was not able to go back to work til almost April , I was really hurting. I only work about 25 hours a week and my usband works 1 full time job and 1 part time job. I have been so upset that I needed to do this. I would say this would never happen to be, but it did. I am so scared. I just want to put all behind me. I finally decided to go to my employer and tell them I need more hours. I just hop that I can make it thew all this. I am also hoping that this will be a better year for my famly.

  • Curious

    Do Ch 7 Trustees do routine DMV record searchs as part of their investigation? If so, I need to clean up some inaccurate DMV records. anyone with experience as to the their normal investigation can help with an answer.

  • K

    Just finished my 341 meeting this morning with my lawyer in Santa Ana, CA.

    Location & Parking:
    Cross-street Main St. and 4th St.; There is a public parking across the Courthouse. .50 cents for the each 30 minutes for the first hour, and $1.00 thereafter for each hour. So bring CASH, as it is only a cash only public parking.

    Courthouse Security Entry Checkpoint:
    When you enter the Courthouse, be prepared to have your photo ID out and take all your belongings in the bin along with your shoes and pass through the security door (whatever you call that thing). FYI – I just brought my ID, SSN, documents that were asked to be brought in an envelope, and my car keys. I decided to leave my cell phone in the car in case they didn’t allow it (I didn’t see any sign that it was not allowed).

    Courthouse Elevator and the Meeting Room:
    Once you’re done with checkpoint, head straight and take the elevator to the 3rd floor. The BK 341 Meeting I had was located at 3110 which is next to the cafe (when you exit the elevator turn right, then turn left you’ll see the sign “CAFE”, it’s the door on the left side prior to entering the cafe).

    Briefing with my Lawyer:
    So, I got to the courthouse at 8:10 as timestamped on my parking stub, I arrived on the 3rd floor roughly 8:20. I met with my lawyer at the cafe and went over my file and briefed me on what I should expect and what questions they may ask and how to answer them. He also asked me to read a green paper, which talks about BK and it was something that was required to do so. Short and sweet no extra toppings. If you are asked a Yes or No, answer with a yes or no, don’t elaborate. So, we sat and relaxed. I think it was a great idea to do. I was very relaxed as coming in early and my lawyer was happy to see me early as he noted most are late and there is no time for briefing. So early is stress free for both parties and you get quality time to talk to your lawyer.

    9:00 341 Meeting:
    So, I entered the meeting room with my lawyer, we sat on the side in the front. We started about 9:05 and the BK Trustee made his introduction and asked that you have your photo ID and your SSN ready when you are called. The first two where called, and there were no shows yet, then it was ME at 9:10 a.m. By the way, the room is filled with people who are also filing BK. Some had lawyers or advisors, others were on their own.

    9:10 The BK Trustee, My lawyer and ME:
    So, we came up, I gave him my ID and SSN, my lawyer introduced himself and I was sworn. Then asked to state my address, if I have read the green paper (the one the lawyer asked me to read in the cafe), asked if everything was true and correct, if there were any corrections on the file, if I will be receiving tax refund for 2009, and if all assets were listed. So, I got the Y and N questions. After that, I was done. Make sure you get your photo ID and SSN back, they hang on to it while they interview you.

    9:13 Exiting the Meeting room:
    My lawyer talked to me about what’s next. Final papers will be about 2-3 months. Also, he mentioned that I got pretty lucky with the BK Trustee. He said that if anything arises, he’ll give me a call, but his office manager will call me to follow-up as well (what a good customer service).

    9:15 Public Parking:
    I paid $2.00 – it was one hour and 6 minutes. So, .50 cents for each 1/2 hour on the first hour and $1.00 thereafter. So, bring $5.00 just in case.

    Other comments and tips:
    Definitely be there EARLY, to stay relaxed. Take time to ask your lawyer questions prior to the meeting. Nothing wrong with over preparing for questions you think they may ask. Don’t bring your purse, just bring the need, photo ID, $5.00 cash, SSN, whatever your lawyer request you to bring, and a debit card. I wore jeans, boots, a nice blouse and a sweater, and wore make up.

    AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH, what a relief! I’m so glad all went well. My horoscope this morning said: “Well, who’s having a really good day, anyway? It looks like it’s you. So enjoy it!”

    I am enjoying it. I hope this helps!

  • Riverside, CA

    My hubby and I have our 341 meeting at the end of the week, I’m nervous as helllll.

  • Lou

    As if filing Chap 7 wasn’t stressful enough. Our first consultation went smooth, then lots of document gathering. Our appt to meet with atty was scheduled and we went only to be told atty had to leave to go to court.(2 week appt later) We go again and the same thing Atty had to leave. Finally a week later we meet with atty and go over all docs and file. Get our date, (today) Driving to court traffic is bumper to bumper arghhhh!!. Get to the parking lot, I do not have my wallet which I had when I left the house. Go to court house 10:45am and speak to atty and tell him of dilema. He says he will check and said will be back in 5 minutes. 5 minutes later fire alarm goes off and everyone on first floor including atty go outside. Where we are 341 meetings continue on ( I guess trustees are not phased by alarms). He shows up 45 minutes later and tells us we need to resched he has a client meeting @2pm I say no way. Tell him I am going home to look for my ID. Pay $20 parking fee and set back home to find ID in driveway (doh!!) Drive back in heavy traffic and cant find atty. Finally appears 30 minutes later. We wait another 30 minutes and then rattle of 10 min worth of answers. He says everything went fine in his opinion (whew!!) Pay the $20 parking fee again! Now just wait the 8-10 weeks for discharge I hope.

  • LOL

    LOL!!!

  • Jak

    Most BKs (figures as high as 99%) are successfully discharged, so relax. Just be honest.

  • Mark

    I had my 341 meeting today at 4 pm. It went smoothly. I was asked 7 simple questions about signatures & accuracy of information. Don’t worry! It’s all straightforward! No creditors showed up either! I did mine at BK court in Oakland, CA.

  • Dee

    Have out meeting tomorrow, am sooo stressed. Two questions, 1, will we have to sit there and review our petition paperwork page by page? & 2, we filed Chpt 7 18 years ago ( now Chpt 13 ) I can not honestly remember if we’ve ever told our attorney. Can’t imagine why we wouldn’t have, but if we didn’t, what if the trustee asks tomorrow? is there any risks in telling our attorney, possibly for the first time?? Our meeting is in Oakland tomorrow. Any advice is greatly appreciated!

  • Dee

    Who was your trustee if you don’t mind telling me?

  • robert

    I attended a 341 meeting last Wednesday 3/10/2011 and before that day i check out this blog and everyone”s comments..I began to think that maybe what I was reading was true..My attorney had told me the longest part of the meeting is waiting for your name to be called.which was true. the whole process from the beginning to end was maybe 30 minutes and only about 6 questions where asked. the trustee actually had made changes to my case and informed the attorney of the error’s.( maybe the sun was shining on me that day ) the meeting was every informal. most people wore jeans and polo’s, for the woman there that day it ranged from shorts to dresses. the questions asked where did we sell and/or buy anything over 600.00 the last month. did we filed all previous tax returns. did we have any property / vehicles we transferred into someone else’s name. did we read the case documents before filing. and if we where in agreement with the monthly payment amount. I was told that the overwhelming fear of the unknown takes over and that was true. but actually, the meeting was every simple.I hope if you read this that it gives you some peace as reading it prior to my day in court gave me a little courage. if you have questions and/or concerns please e-mail me………my trustee 341 meeting was in riverside ca ,judge johnson. o.k now that is done, on with my life ………..

  • Mikey LV

    My 341 is tomorrow. A bit nervous, though feel I should be more. I did a Chapter 7 in 1995 which was easy compared to this Chapter 13. The wife is just “concerned.” Ignorance is bliss I guess.

  • John V.

    My wife and I have a Chp 7 bankruptcy 341 hearing this month, here in NJ. Ironicaly, I once was an employee at the same court, many moons ago now. I often said in jest that I would return there as a client, boy is that something I regret saying today. Long story short, my wife and I tried over ayear to avoid filling, but the bills overcame us. I am wondering how selling your personal items on eBay may effect one’s case. I have been selling off my music colletion the past 16 months. Will thetrustees want to liquidate the rest of my collection, or can I retain it? I sold more than 75% off. This is my only concern involving our case. Believe me, I have survived much worse, including a near fatal car accident and CA-MRSA.Any feedback would be great. The best to yolu all dealing with this nightmare.

  • Taymee

    I’m just starting the process. Going for my first consultation on Monday. Actually it’s my 7th, but every time I keep changing my mind and waiting it out a little longer. At this point I am in so much worse shape than I was the first time I talked to a lawyer. I have to just face it this time, I don’t have a choice. I can’t afford to pay off these bills. I am 36 years old and have 5 kids. When I was a kid my mother told me money was a grown up worry and not to think about it. Well I’m trying to teach my kids better than that, but obviously I have no idea how to work with money, or I wouldn’t have depended on loans and credit cards and store credit to pay for Christmas and birthday presents for my kids and I would have been able to live inside the budgets that I created. I feel like a failure but it helps to see how many people there are that work hard and still can’t make it. I put in over 70 hours a week at my job (sadly that job is teaching so I don’t get paid for that dedication) and nothing I do will make it possible for me to pay my living expenses and my debt both.

  • Jennifer

    I just got home from mine today (Houston, TX). The trustee was almost an hour behind and I am sick with a horrendous cold so I was getting irritated while waiting. My atty had another case with another trustee so when it was our turn, my husband and I had to wait, so we sat in the room while another couple went ahead of us. They were so nervous, their voices were shaking as they answered the questions, but they were done in maybe 5 minutes. Our atty finished and came in and we were up. We sworn in, handed over our id’s, answered a few questions, printed our names on a piece of paper, then he said we were done. I just looked at our atty and said “that’s it?”. I was so relieved. This part is finally over. We didn’t get near the questions the couple in front of us did, different circumstances. I felt so bad for everyone there, but glad there is this law to protect us. I have multiple autoimmune disorders, my husband and I both had medical bills and hospital bills we couldn’t pay. We have three kids, all with Autism. Sometimes life gives you crap you cant control or fix. After racking up $60,000 worth of debt just trying to live, eat and take care of our family, this was the last resort. I feel bad it came to this, but after creating more financial messes in desperate attempts to fix our financial mess, this had to be done.

  • donkey

    you all are f$$king losers just like me, sorry life brought you down

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    No matter if some one searches for his essential thing, thus he/she
    wants to be available that in detail, so that thing is maintained over here.

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