Last week I attended the most grueling 341 meeting I have ever witnessed. I had the unfortunate privilege of being the very last Salt Lake City Bankruptcy Attorney called – so I witnessed the entire meeting in all its glory. I think telling the story might give those of you out there an idea of what goes on during the 341 meeting.
Now, as you may have read in my previous Salt Lake City bankruptcy lawyer posts – after your attorney files you bankruptcy petition, you will have a meeting with your assigned bankruptcy trustee. This meeting is known as a “341 Meeting” because it takes place pursuant to section 341 of the Bankruptcy Code.
These meetings can be intimidating, and sometimes my clients are nervous about them. The trustee will put you under oath, and will ask you various questions about your financial affairs. Often, the bankruptcy trustee will exude a suspicious air, and sometimes his or her demeanor is gruff-or even downright rude. However, you need not fear the 341 meeting if you do three simple things: 1) tell the truth about everything asked, 2) hire a good Salt Lake City Bankruptcy Attorney, and 3) provide your attorney with everything he needs in order to make your interaction with the trustee as pleasant as possible.
Now, I write this blog, in large part, for marketing purposes – I do run a business people! However, I have always refrained from directly selling myself as a good lawyer. Until now…I can’t resist because what happened in this 341 meeting is a perfect demonstration of what I can do for you as a good Salt Lake City Bankruptcy Attorney; and unfortunately, as I was the last attorney called today, there was no one else other than my clients who had already hired me to witness this – so I have to tell someone! Here goes:
This was the worst 341 meeting I have ever seen. I have seen one or two debtors get grilled and caught in lies before, and I have seen trustees come after assets that debtors thought they wouldn’t have to give up. But not in such depth and such astounding succession.
I will make the story short. The trustee appeared to have been in a very bad mood, and was running quite late. There were three cases called before mine. The first one was a pro se debtor (meaning he was not represented by an attorney – something you should never do; read on to find out why). The trustee ended up telling him that he was going to sell the debtor’s furniture…ALL of it…because he had claimed that it was worth over $10,000 and he had used the improper exemption laws to protect it! In all actuality, the debtor’s furniture was probably not worth anywhere near that much, and would have been fully covered if he had used a competent Utah Bankruptcy attorney who knew how to apply the proper exemptions. (I for one have never had a debtor lose their furniture!)
The second and third cases were represented by bankruptcy lawyers, but they did not do a very good job. The trustee informed the debtors in the second case that he would be objecting to their discharge because they had received a discharge in a previous bankruptcy within the blackout range and were ineligible to file again. The trustee admonished the attorney for failing to list the bankruptcy, and he had apparently not even checked to see if there were any previous filings. This is plainly incompetent. The result being that these debtors will not be able to receive a discharge until they become eligible again. The attorney has wasted their time and money, and they are now further in debt – and their debt is at least temporarily inextricable. I hope the attorney sees fit to give them a refund!
The trustee’s tirade continued with the third debtor – a poor sweet woman who left the meeting IN TEARS – no joke. She was also represented by a bankruptcy lawyer – who also didn’t do a very good job. The upshot is that she will now have to pay the trustee almost $300 per month for the next three years – an outcome that could have been prevented by a competent bankruptcy lawyer in Utah. 3 years times 12 months times 300 dollars is $10,800 – your attorney should not be charging you anywhere near that amount, so you’re already saving tons of money by hiring someone competent rather than price shopping or representing yourself.
When it came time for my clients’ meeting, I could tell they were nervous. And who could blame them – it was beginning to feel like the opening scene from Saving Private Ryan in there.
I was not worried…because I am a good bankruptcy attorney. I take the time I need to make sure I explain everything to my clients, and to prepare their schedules completely and accurately, and to catch any possible negative issues and fix them before the trustee does it for me. My clients were treated with respect, spoken to in a professional, even tone, free of suspicion. There were asked little more than the basic questions. There was no need for the trustee to pursue anything further because everything was in order.
My clients were not told that the trustee would be objecting to their discharge, and they were not told that they would be losing any possessions, turning over any money, or making any payments in the future. And I will sleep well tonight because I know that I was able to provide my clients with the financial relief that they desperately needed.
THAT IS WHAT A GOOD SALT LAKE CITY BANKRUPTCY ATTORNEY CAN DO FOR YOU!