Attorney as added-value at 341 meeting

The lawyer’s presence at the 341 meeting often seems superfluous.  A good 341 meeting is when the only words I utter are to enter my appearance for my client.  My role is usually to remind the debtor to keep breathing and to tease them about their worries over the meeting afterward.

Yet two incidents  yesterday reminded me why I’m there.  I am not a potted plant: I’m the designated listener.

In one case, my client rushed to answer the trustee’s question about whether she’d owned real estate in the recent past.  The client jumped in to say “No,”  not having registered that the question was not, do you have real estate now, but, have you ever had real estate. I intervened, asked the question again of the debtor, and insured that the record of the 341 meeting was full and correct.  Yes, she had owned real estate that was sold several years past.

The second case had the trustee asking my voluble client if anyone owed him money.  Yes, he said, contradicting the schedules, and launched off on an involved  narrative about his investment in oil wells and how there was a suit against the driller.  I was able, with a couple of questions of the debtor, to get on the record that he was not a named party in the suit and that the entity that was a party was an investment vehicle in his IRA in which he held a fractional interest.

Again,  complications headed off because, as the lawyer, with perspective on the nature of the trustee’s real interest and a familiarity with the facts, I was able to nip inconsistency in the bud and create an accurate record at the 341 meeting.

There is a reason we appear with our clients and it’s a task not to be delegated to those unfamiliar with the case.

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  • Cathy, the “keep breathing” and “that probably wasn’t as bad as you’d thought” points had me laughing, as those are exactly what I say most of the time, too. Those hopefully rare occasions where our presence does make a real difference do emphasize one of the many reasons being represented by an experienced bankruptcy attorney is a wise investment.

    Mark Emmett
    Salt Lake City, Utah

  • Criminal Law

    Nice article it interesting. Nice reading your article i like reading your blog.

  • Apdelga26

    Very Interesting and it a way makes me feel calm about my upcoming meeting

  • Juan

    Good article. I agree that the mark of a job well-done is when the only thing you state is your name. On a couple of my cases, a trustee has misstated the contents of Schedule B (“how come you only list $500.00 of personal property”, when the Schedule actually identified $2,000.00 of personal property), and my clients, understandably nervous, become even more nervous. The first time, I hesitated to correct him, but the second I chimed in with the correction. Now, your article has helped to validate my decision. Thanks.