REMOTE 341(a) MEETING INSTRUCTIONS
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, the “Meeting of Creditors” also known as the section 341(a) hearing, had always required in-person attendance at a select location. Once the pandemic started, in-person hearings were changed to remote hearings for safety reasons. There are essentially two different types of remote hearings: telephone and zoom. Some trustees will require a phone hearing, some will require a zoom hearing and others will allow a phone call within the Zoom framework.
A Meeting of Creditors is a requirement in every bankruptcy case. Although it is called the Meeting of Creditors its main purpose is to provide an opportunity for the trustee to ask questions to the debtor. Creditors may also ask questions, but the number and scope of questions they are allowed to ask are usually limited by the trustee. However, it is extremely rare for a creditor to show up and even if they do it is usually not any cause for alarm.
If your bankruptcy case requires you to attend a Meeting of Creditors via telephone it is very important that you comply with the following instructions.
Prior to the hearing it is important that your bankruptcy lawyer sent over your last filed tax return, pictures of your government issued ID (driver’s license, passport, state ID card, etc.) and proof of your social security number (social security card, W2, 1099, etc.) to the trustee. These are usually the minimum requirements for every bankruptcy case. Some cases may require additional documents.
If the Meeting of Creditors is held via telephone you will be provided a phone number with an access code. Call the phone number from a quiet location and press the access code when prompted. If you press the numbers correctly you will join the meeting.
The Meeting of Creditors via telephone can have anywhere from 5 to 30 people on the call. The most important aspect of the call to understand is that usually everyone will be able to hear everyone else on the line. So if you are driving around, at a restaurant, walking on the street, talking to your friend and all manner of other scenarios; the entire hearing will hear it as well. So it is important to make the call in a very quiet place. Calling from a quiet room in your home is ideal. Calling while driving is NOT ideal.
Once you are in the call, it is important to MUTE your phone. Press the mute button on your cell phone because otherwise you will disturb the hearing if you make any inadvertent noises. When you first call in, it is likely that you will hear other people (who filed bankruptcy) being asked questions by the trustee. It is important to listen because you will likely be asked the same questions. So be quiet, listen and wait until the trustee calls your name.
Once the trustee calls your name, your bankruptcy lawyer will make an announcement and state their name and say that they are representing you in the case. After your lawyer makes their statement, it is important to speak up and let the trustee know that you are on the call. If you do not speak up, the trustee and your lawyer will assume that you are not on the call and either reschedule your hearing date or if you miss enough hearings, dismiss your case.
After you acknowledge your presence in the call, the trustee ask the following statements and questions::
1). Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?
2.) State your name for the record.
3.) The trustee will make a statement that they have reviewed your government issued ID and proof of your social security number.
4.) Are you the person who signed the bankruptcy petition and related documents?
5.) Did you read, review and understand the bankruptcy documents when you signed them?
6.) Is all of the information true and correct?
7.) Are there any changes, errors or omissions you want to let us know about?
8.) Did you list all your assets?
9.) Did you list all your debts?
10.) Have you ever filed bankruptcy before?
11.) Is the employment information on your bankruptcy petition correct?
12.) Do you owe any domestic support obligations?
13.) Have you sold, given away or transferred any property (assets: cars, houses, money, etc) in the last 4 years?
14.) Did you read the bankruptcy information sheet?
15.) Is the tax return your bankruptcy attorney provided to us, a true and correct copy of the last filed tax return you filed?
The trustee may also ask other questions that they have related to the specific information you provided in your bankruptcy petition. Your lawyer would usually be able to give you a “heads up” about other possible questions the trustee may ask based upon your case.
But the questions above are asked in all Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases. Chapter 13 cases are a little less formal and have an even smaller number of core questions. And Chapter 13 Meetings of Creditors are held in private, so other debtors and their lawyers are not present in the hearing.
Once the trustee has finished their questions, you can hang up.
A Zoom meeting operates in nearly the same way. You log in via Zoom by following a link that is provided or you call the phone number that allows you to be in the Zoom hearing via phone. The most important aspects to remember are: 1) remain quiet (mute yourself), 2) listen, 3) wait for your turn, and 4) speak loudly and clearly when you are called.
If you are married and have filed your bankruptcy case jointly…then it is required that both of you attend the meeting and it is also required that each of you answer each of the questions the trustee asks separately. After the trustee asks a question, one of you will answer first and then the other one will answer after. Both of you cannot answer at the same time.
If you have any questions, please contact your bankruptcy lawyer.
MacLean Chung Law Firm represents debtors throughout the State of California in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Following the pandemic, the law firm has made great strides towards representing clients through remote means, such as Zoom and Google Meet. Of course, MacLean Chung Law Firm still has physical office locations in Burbank, Pasadena, Santa Clarita, Torrance and San Diego and meets many clients in-person. If you are seeking an experienced bankruptcy lawyer, please contact us for a free initial consultation. MacLean Chung Law Firm’s goal is to represent bankruptcy clients with the highest rate of success at the most competitive fees in all of California.