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What is a §341(a) meeting or meeting of creditors? What can I expect will happen there?

The “341(a) meeting” is sometimes called the “meeting of creditors” and gets its name from the Section of Title 11 of the United States Code where the requirements for the first meeting of creditors and equity security holders are found. Section 341 of the Bankruptcy Code requires every debtor to personally attend a meeting of creditors and to submit to an examination under oath. The meeting is held outside the presence of the judge. In Chapter 7, 12 and 13 cases, the trustee assigned by the United States Trustee conducts the hearing. In chapter 11 cases where the debtor remains in possession of all the assets and no trustee is immediately assigned, a representative of the Office of the U.S. Trustee conducts the hearing.

The case may be dismissed if the debtor fails to appear at, and complete, this meeting. It is usually scheduled between 21 and 40 days after the new petition is filed and is usually held at the Office of the U.S. Trustee which is located at 1220 SW 3rd Ave #315 in Portland and at 405 E 8th Ave #1100 in Eugene, but may be scheduled at other locations throughout the state to accommodate debtors from outside these metropolitan areas.

The hearing permits the trustee or representative of the U.S. Trustee’s Office to review the debtor’s petition and schedules with the debtor face-to-face. The debtor is required to answer questions under penalty of perjury concerning the debtor’s acts, conduct, property, liabilities, financial condition and any matter that may affect administration of the estate or the debtor’s right to discharge. This information enables the trustee or representative of the U.S. Trustee’s Office to understand the debtor’s circumstances and facilitates efficient administration of the case. Additionally, the trustee or representative of the U.S. Trustee’s Office will ask questions to ensure that the debtor understands the positive and negative aspects of filing for bankruptcy.

The hearing is referred to as the “meeting of creditors” because creditors are notified that they may attend and question the debtor about the location and disposition of assets and any other matter relevant to the administration of the case. However, creditors rarely attend these hearings and are not considered to have waived any of their rights by failing to appear. The hearing usually lasts only a few minutes and may be continued if the trustee or representative of the U.S. Trustee’s Office is not satisfied with the information provided by the debtor. If the debtor fails to appear and provide the information requested at the hearing, the trustee or representative of the U.S. Trustee’s Office may request that the bankruptcy case be dismissed or that the debtor be ordered by the court to cooperate or be held in contempt of court for willful failure to cooperate.

To view a video of a trustee conducting a 341(a) meeting of creditors, click here.

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