Most of my clients are very intimidated by the prospect of being "examined" by a trustee. When I tell them it will be a five minute meeting and that there is no reason to be nervous, they do not believe me until after it is over.
I prepare my clients for the 341 meeting throughout the process of filing for bankruptcy. When we initially meet I outline the entire bankruptcy process. When they come in to go over the petition and sign I go over the types of questions that they may get in detail. Finally I have my clients meet me a half hour before the scheduled 341 meeting in order to prepare them and imprint on their minds the specific material contained in the petition.
The questions differ by jurisdiction and trustee; however, fundamentally they are as follows:
- Can I see your license and social security card please?
- Where do you live?
- Is that your signature on page three of the petition and did you read the petition and its schedules and did you participate in its preparation.
- Is all the information you included accurate, true and correct to the best of your abilities and do you have any changes?
- Where do you work?
- Do you own a car, and if so what make and year is it. Do you own any other motor vehicles.
- Have you paid any creditors within the last 90 days?
- Have you paid any insiders (friends and relatives) within the last year?
- Have you transferred any real estate in the last 6 years?
- When was the last time you used your credit cards?
- Have you filed your most recent tax returns?
- Do you expect a refund and if so how much?
- Did you recently receive an inheritance or do you expect to receive one in the next 6 months?
- Is your mortgage (rental expense) payment as set forth in the petition?
- Are your expenses as set forth in the petition?
The key to a 341 meeting is to be honest and open with the trustee, but yet, you should not ask extraneous questions, or offer information that has not been asked. I tell my clients to be prepared, but that the trustee wants to see that they are honest. I tell them that the honest answer is always the correct one and that we can always amend the petition if they say something that is not consistent with the petition for any reason.
Clients ask me what could go wrong, and I tell them about some of the odd things that have come up in 341 meetings that I have seen. For example, I had a client ask if she spent money on childcare and her response was "no, my parents watch my child." Because I had given my copy of that page of the petition to the trustee I could not review it and so ultimately the trustee told my client to talk to counsel about that because we had $600 a month in childcare on the petition. When I reviewed the petition in my office later that day I saw that the petition said there was $600 a month for "childcare related expenses." The client confirmed that this amount was correct and that was what she was expending for a new born infant who needed diapers, wipes, baby food, etc. I wrote an explanation to the trustee and the case was closed.
But the above is a good example of why the clients should be familiar with
their own expenses. A 341 meeting scheduled for 11:00AM can be two hours late starting and the client should be prepared to wait.
On the other hand you have to be on time because sometimes the meetings
start a few minutes early.
If you are looking for a bankruptcy lawyer in Westchester County to help you file for bankruptcy, please contact our office to arrange a free consultation to discuss your situation.