by Adam Mack, J.D.
Hillary Stirling, research assistant
A person files bankruptcy and then fails to attend the 341 hearing.
WHAT COULD GO WRONG
It’s imperative that the person filing bankruptcy attend what’s known as a 341 hearing (aka Meeting of Creditors or Creditor Meeting). It’s a brief but critical court appearance in which the person filing bankruptcy answers a series of questions under oath. It’s also normally the only time that the person filing bankruptcy must appear before the at a hearing.
If the bankruptcy filer doesn’t come to the 341 hearing, the trustee will likely do one of two things: move to continue (or postpone) the hearing or move to dismiss (or toss out) the bankruptcy case altogether. Which way the trustee will go depends entirely on his or her opinion and even mood on that given day, though in my experience trustees are slightly more likely to move to dismiss.
If the trustee moves to dismiss, again there are two possible outcomes, assuming the bankruptcy filer is willing to pay the extra money necessary to keep the case alive. The bankruptcy attorney will have to fight the motion and, depending on the circumstances and the judge, might or might not be successful. Either way, the filer will be out the additional money and just might jeopardize the entire bankruptcy case.
Of course, there are exceptions to every law, and if you have good reason to miss your hearing, the court can make other arrangements depending on the circumstances. Good reasons might include being deployed overseas, being incarcerated, or being hospitalized, but again even those reasons might not suffice under certain circumstances. Reasons that sound good but are insufficient in the eyes of the law include, but are not limited to, living a long distance from the court or being unable to get off work.
THE MOST IMPORTANT PART
Unlike other types of court cases that require multiple appearances before the court, in bankruptcy proceedings you generally only need to show up once. Because of that, it’s critical that you be there. If for any reason you think you might not be able to attend your 341 hearing, let your attorney know a well in advance.
These articles are for general informational use and do not constitute legal advice. Since laws change over time, it’s possible some articles are out of date and for that reason, we make no representation that the articles are fully accurate. For actual, up-to-date legal advice (including a free consultation), please contact us!