Why You Must Attend the 341 Meeting of the Creditors
If you make the decision to file for bankruptcy, there are certain obligations that must be met in order to receive the financial fresh start you are requesting. Proper paperwork must be filed with the bankruptcy court, and certain deadlines must be met. Additionally, one of the most important parts of a bankruptcy case is the 341 Meeting of the Creditors. It is critical that any debtor attend their 341 Meeting to ensure that they receive the legal protections afforded within their bankruptcy case.
Understanding the 341 Meeting of the Creditors
This meeting allows the bankruptcy trustee, the debtor, the debtor’s attorney, and all creditors of the debtor to be in one place at the same time. The creditors of the debtor have the legal right to examine all of the financial documents of the debtor as well as ask any questions regarding their current economic situation. This typically brief court appearance occurs when the debtor is required to answer all questions under oath and under penalty of perjury.
What Happens if a Debtor Does Not Attend the 341 Meeting of Creditors
If the debtor makes the decision not to appear at the 341 Meeting of Creditors, the bankruptcy trustee in charge of the bankruptcy case can choose two options: either make a legal motion to continue the 341 Meeting of the Creditors to another time (essentially postponing and rescheduling the meeting for a later time) or completely dismissing the case. If the bankruptcy trustee completely dismisses the case then the bankruptcy filer’s entire bankruptcy case is over and they will not have any of their debts discharged. It is important to note that a debtor only needs to show up to court this one time, which is why a bankruptcy trustee may feel inclined to dismiss the bankruptcy case. The absence of a debtor at a 341 Meeting of Creditors is oftentimes seen as disrespectful and a waste of the court’s time, and therefore a bankruptcy trustee may feel inclined to simply dismiss the case.
Possible Ways to Salvage the Bankruptcy Case
If you failed to appear at a 341 Meeting of the Creditors, you may have the option to pay additional fees to the court to keep the case open and have a rescheduling of the hearing. Depending on the facts and circumstances of the case, and why the debtor failed to appear, a judge may grant the motion, and a debtor may be successful in their attempt to continue to pursue their bankruptcy case.
If there was an emergency that prevented you from being at the hearing, such as being hospitalized, incarcerated, or deployed by the military, you may have the chance to revive your bankruptcy case and continue to pursue the dischargeability of your debts.
Contact Us Today for Professional Help
If you are considering bankruptcy, make sure that you visit with an experienced attorney to ensure that you never miss a 341 Meeting of Creditors hearing or any of your other legal obligations. Contact us for a consultation to see how an experienced West Palm Beach bankruptcy attorney at Kelley, Fulton & Kaplan at 561-264-6850 can help you understand your legal rights.