by: Baran Bulkat, Attorney
After you file for bankruptcy, you must go to a required hearing called the meeting of creditors (also called the 341 hearing). In most cases, if you don’t show up to your meeting of creditors, your bankruptcy will be dismissed. But there are a few circumstances that may justify rescheduling your hearing. Read on to learn more about what happens if you don’t attend your 341 hearing and whether you can reschedule it. (Learn more about the bankruptcy meeting of creditors.)
The meeting of creditors allows the bankruptcy trustee and any creditors who wish to attend the opportunity to question you under oath about the information in your bankruptcy papers and your financial affairs. (Learn about what to expect at the meeting of creditors.)
In general, the trustee will use the time to verify the information you disclosed in your bankruptcy paperwork. If any of your creditors are present, they will typically be allowed to inquire about the nature and location of your property. (Learn about whether your creditors will show up to the 341 hearing.)
The meeting of creditors is a required hearing in bankruptcy. When you file your case, the court will send you a notice to inform you of the date, time, and location of your 341 hearing. Unless you qualify for a rare exception, you must attend your scheduled meeting of creditors.
In general, if you don’t go to your 341 hearing, the trustee will dismiss your bankruptcy case without a discharge of your debts. This means that you will have to refile your bankruptcy if you want to eliminate your debts.
Your meeting of creditors will usually take place 20 to 40 days after you file your bankruptcy. This should give you plenty of time to make arrangements to attend the 341 hearing. But if you know that you won’t be able to make it to your hearing, notify your bankruptcy trustee right away.
Most bankruptcy trustees have very busy calendars. In many cases, they may be unwilling to reschedule your hearing unless you have a valid reason (discussed below). But depending on who your individual trustee is, he or she may be willing to continue your meeting of creditors to another day if you give plenty of notice that you won’t be able to make the hearing at the scheduled time.
While the trustee may agree to reschedule your 341 hearing for other reasons at his or her discretion, your request to reschedule will typically be justified if:
In general, the following circumstances won’t be enough to justify rescheduling your meeting of creditors:
In almost all cases, you will need to attend your meeting of creditors in person. But there are a few exceptions.
The trustee may allow you to attend the meeting of creditors by telephone or video teleconference if you can’t appear in person because:
If your circumstances are such that you can’t appear by telephone or video teleconference but can answer written interrogatories, the trustee may allow you to do so. Interrogatories are written questions that you must respond to in writing.
If you pass away prior to your hearing or suffer from complete mental or physical incapacity, the trustee will typically allow an authorized representative to attend the 341 hearing and provide testimony on your behalf.