When you file for bankruptcy relief, you must attend a mandatory hearing called the meeting of creditors (also called the 341 hearing). If you fail to attend your 341 hearing, the bankruptcy trustee appointed in your case will most likely dismiss your bankruptcy. Read on to learn more about what happens if you don’t go to your bankruptcy meeting of creditors.
For more information on what happens at the 341 hearing, see our topic area on The Meeting of Creditors.
What Is the Meeting of Creditors?
The meeting of creditors is a hearing that gives the trustee and your creditors a chance to ask you questions under oath about your bankruptcy paperwork and financial affairs. At the 341 hearing, the trustee will verify the information disclosed in your bankruptcy petition and may have additional questions relating to your file. Creditors are also allowed to question you regarding the nature and location of your assets.
Do I Have to Attend the Meeting of Creditors?
Yes, the meeting of creditors is a mandatory hearing. In most cases, you must attend your 341 hearing in person at its regularly scheduled time. If you don’t appear at your meeting of creditors, the trustee will normally dismiss your case and your debts will not be discharged (eliminated).
But under certain circumstances, the trustee may agree to reschedule your hearing or allow you to appear telephonically (discussed below).
Can I Reschedule My Meeting of Creditors?
Bankruptcy trustees manage a heavy caseload and conduct multiple 341 hearings in a given day. As a result, they will typically not reschedule meetings of creditors unless there is a compelling reason to do so. In general, the trustee will reschedule your meeting of creditors only if you have:
- a medical or family emergency
- a medical treatment that must be performed immediately, or
- other compelling circumstances.
The following circumstances typically will not justify rescheduling a 341 hearing:
- work schedule conflicts
- personal or business travel
- routine medical visits
- moving to a different city or state, or
- not properly calendaring the hearing date.
Can I Appear Telephonically?
In most cases, you must personally appear at your 341 hearing. If you are not able to attend the meeting of creditors, the trustee may allow you to appear telephonically if:
- you have a medical condition that prevents you from appearing in person
- you are called to active military duty
- you are incarcerated, or
- you have another compelling reason.
Can I Be Excused from Attending the Meeting of Creditors?
If you can’t attend the meeting of creditors in person or telephonically, you may be able to ask the court to excuse you from appearing. In general, bankruptcy courts will only excuse a debtor from attending the 341 hearing under rare circumstances such as:
- death, or
- complete mental or physical incapacity.
Even if the court excuses your appearance, an authorized representative must normally still attend the hearing on your behalf and provide the trustee will all necessary information.
What Should I Do If I Can’t Attend My Meeting of Creditors?
If you are certain that you will not be able to attend your meeting of creditors, contact your bankruptcy trustee immediately. Even if you don’t have a reason that justifies rescheduling your hearing, the trustee may still agree to do so if you explain your circumstances and provide ample notice.