by: Baran Bulkat, Attorney
If you want to file for bankruptcy relief, you have to personally attend your meeting of creditors (also called the 341 hearing). But under rare circumstances, you may be able to appear by telephone, video conference, written interrogatories, or through an authorized representative. Read on to learn more about whether you must attend the meeting of creditors.
For more information, see Bankruptcy’s Meeting of Creditors.
The purpose of the meeting of creditors is to give the bankruptcy trustee and your creditors an opportunity to examine you under oath about your bankruptcy papers. As a result, unless you qualify for an exception, you must appear at the 341 hearing in person. If you fail to attend, the trustee will typically dismiss your bankruptcy without a discharge of your debts.
In general, the exact circumstances that may excuse you from personally appearing at the meeting of creditors depend on the rules in your jurisdiction. But they typically include family or medical emergency, serious medical condition, death, incapacity, incarceration, natural disaster, active military service, or other compelling reasons.
If any of the foregoing conditions exist, the trustee will try to continue your hearing to another date. But if you will still not be able to attend in the near future, the trustee may agree to have you appear telephonically or through video conferencing, written interrogatories, or an authorized representative. In most cases, you will only be allowed to use written interrogatories or an authorized representative if you cannot appear telephonically or through video conferencing because of incapacity or other valid reason.
If you know that you cannot make your 341 hearing, you must notify the trustee as soon as possible. If you give the trustee sufficient notice and explain your circumstances, he or she can work with you to reschedule your hearing or have you appear in a different way.