How to Prepare for The Bankruptcy Meeting of Creditors

By:
Philadelphia Bankruptcy Attorney, Dan Mueller
Last updated:

After you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you will have a few weeks before your bankruptcy hearing (the meeting of creditors or 341 hearing). Although it is not at all like cramming for a school exam, there are some things that you need to do to prepare for your meeting with the bankruptcy trustee. If you do the following, it will help make sure things go smoothly and prevent bumps or delays in your case:

Try not to stress about it. Keep in mind that most meetings are quite short, and your attorney will be with you. The trustees in this district are professional and will not try to trick you or make you feel bad. The anticipation is always worse than reality.

Know what to expect. It is essential to know at least generally what to expect at the meeting of creditors. You lawyer will discuss the meeting with you in detail. However, in preparing for this hearing, you should also review the email your lawyer will send you and our blog posts on the creditors' meeting.

Ask questions. If there are any questions that you are uncertain about, be sure to discuss them with your bankruptcy lawyer.

Provide updated documents to your attorney. Ensure that you have provided updated documents to your attorney in time to provide them to the trustee before the hearing. At least ten days before the creditors' meeting, you should supply your bankruptcy attorney with copies of all of the following documents that you have received since you last provided documents to your attorney:

  • Pay stubs or other proof of income;
  • Statements for all bank and other financial accounts, including statements showing the date that your bankruptcy was filed. Financial accounts include savings, checking, credit union, brokerage, 401(k) and other retirement accounts, etc.
  • Statements showing the cash value of any life insurance policies at the time of filing;
  • Current declaration page or insurance card for home and auto insurance (if the policies or coverage dates have changed since you last provided these items to your attorney); and
  • Mortgage and vehicle loan balances at the time of filing.

If there is a problem obtaining any of these items, Let your attorney know right away.

Review your bankruptcy schedules and related documents. Review your bankruptcy petition, schedules, statement of financial affairs, and related documents thoroughly before the meeting date. In a Chapter 13 case, review your Chapter 13 plan as well. Please do this at least a few days before your hearing, not the night before.

Going back over your schedules and documents is the most important thing you can do to prepare for the meeting. Not only will it allow you to find and correct any mistakes or omissions, but it will also make it much easier to answer the trustee's questions. If you do notice anything that should be changed, be sure to let your bankruptcy lawyer know.

Make sure you have your ID with you. You must show the bankruptcy trustee (1) a photo ID issued by the government (such as a driver's license, military ID card, or passport) and (2) proof of your Social Security number (typically your Social Security card, but other items such as an original W2 may be acceptable).

Quick Note: I advise my clients to place their ID and Social Security Card in their wallets the night before and double-check on the day of the meeting to be sure that they have them. If you do not have your ID and Social Security card at the meeting, the trustee will at the least reschedule your hearing, which will cause a delay in your case.

Be sure you know where to go and how to get there. The location of the meeting of creditors will be listed on the Notice of Meeting of Creditors and your attorney's pre-filing email message. Your attorney will meet you there. The locations at the end of this article are the usual locations for 341 meetings. However, on occasion, meetings are at other locations because of scheduling conflicts. Therefore, you must read your meeting notice and attorney's pre-meeting email message carefully.

Dress neatly. You do not need to wear a suit or tie, but you should dress neatly. What you would wear to work or to visit someone in an office is fine.

Make arrangements for minor children. It is very important that you make babysitting arrangements for any children. The meeting of creditors is not set up to accommodate children.

Quick Note: I should also mention that pets are not permitted. OK, I am half-joking, but I once had a client bring a small dog to a creditors' meeting under his coat. Don't be that guy. Of course, service animals are permitted, but let your attorney know ahead of time.

Get there early. Be sure to double-check the date, time, and location on the Notice of Meeting of Creditors. If there has been a change in the schedule, your attorney should inform you. It is essential to get to the location early. (I tell my clients in my Philadelphia bankruptcy practice to be there forty-five minutes before the scheduled starting time.)

Your attorney will need time to meet with you before the trustee calls your case. If you are late to the meeting, you will disrupt the schedule, and your case will be pushed back to the end or even rescheduled.

Give your attorney your cell phone number. If your attorney does not have your current cell phone number for some reason, make sure he or she has it before the meeting of creditors. I always make sure my clients can reach me directly on the day of the meeting of creditors.

If you are unsure about what you need to do to prepare for the meeting of creditors, be sure to ask your bankruptcy lawyer. When it comes to this important bankruptcy hearing, it is best not to wait until the last minute.

Chapter 7 Meetings of Creditors: Here are the primary locations for bankruptcy meetings of creditors in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania:

Philadelphia, Montgomery County, Delaware Counties, and most Bucks County Chapter 7 Cases:

Chapter 7 - 341(a) Meeting Room
Robert N.C. Nix Federal Courthouse
900 Market Street
Suite 304A
Philadelphia, PA 19107

Bucks County - Langhorne Chapter 7 Cases (for most other Bucks county cases, see above)

Middletown Municipal Center
3 Municipal Way, Public Hall
Langhorne, PA 19047

Chester County Chapter 7 Cases

Chester County Government Services Center
601 Westtown Road
West Chester, PA 19380

Lehigh and North Hampton Counties Chapter 7 Cases

Allentown Federal Courthouse
504 W. Hamilton Street, Courtroom 3-C
Allentown, PA 18101

Chester County Chapter 7 Cases

Chester County Government Services Center
601 Westtown Road
West Chester, PA 19380

Lancaster County Chapter 7 Cases

Lancaster Bar Association Auditorium, 2nd Floor
28 East Orange Street
Lancaster, PA 17602

Chapter 13 Meetings of Creditors: Here are the locations for Chapter 13 bankruptcy meetings of creditors in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania:

Philadelphia, Montgomery, Delaware, Chester, and Bucks Counties Chapter 13 Cases

Office of the Chapter 13 Trustee,
1234 Market Street (Septa Building)
Suite 18-341 Philadelphia, PA 19107
Philadelphia, PA 19107

Berks County Chapter 13 Cases

Chapter 13 Meeting Room 2901
St. Lawrence Avenue
Reading, PA 19606

Lancaster County Chapter 13 Cases

Chapter 13 Meeting Room
2901 St. Lawrence Avenue
Reading, PA 19606

Lehigh and North Hampton Counties Chapter 13 Cases

Bar Association of Lehigh County
Meeting Rooms - Lower Level
1114 West Walnut Street Allentown, PA 18102

Philadelphia, Montgomery County, Delaware Counties, and most Bucks County Chapter 13 Cases:

Chapter 7 - 341(a) Meeting Room
Robert N.C. Nix Federal Courthouse
900 Market Street
Suite 304A
Philadelphia, PA 19107

Originally Published:
December 18, 2011
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What you need to know to prepare for your bankruptcy hearing by our Philadlephia bankruptcy attorneys.

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