Jun 26, 2023 • Steve C. Taylor, Esq.
What is a 341 Meeting? What Happens if I Miss My 341 Meeting?
341 Meetings are One of the Most Important Obligations in Bankruptcy
When filing for bankruptcy, there are several requirements you must meet. One of the requirements that causes the most stress for filers is the 341 Meeting of Creditors. It is the one thing that individuals filing for bankruptcy dread most.
Do I Have to Attend the 341 Meeting of Creditors?
Yes. The 341 Meeting of Creditors is the only hearing during a Chapter 7 bankruptcy that requires the attendance of the debtor.
However, if you have hired a bankruptcy lawyer to handle your case, you may not have to be physically present in court to file your paperwork or attend any additional hearings.
What is the 341 Meeting?
The 341 Meeting of Creditors generally occurs about 20 to 40 days after you file. You will meet face-to-face with your creditors and the court-appointed trustee to discuss the discharge of your debts. If a creditor believes its debt should not be discharged in your case, the meeting is an opportunity for them to explain why. It’s also a chance for you to defend your right to discharge the debt. The meeting also allows the court to clear up any questions it might have about your bankruptcy paperwork.
As was stated earlier, the meeting is a mandatory requirement for debt discharge. The meeting is scheduled by the bankruptcy court and filers must attend, even if it is inconvenient. Not attending can result in immediate dismissal of your case.
Why is the Meeting of Creditors Necessary in Chapter 7?
The purpose of the 341 Meeting of Creditors Hearing is to prevent bankruptcy fraud. The court must verify the information provided about you and your finances before your bankruptcy case can proceed.
You will be under oath, so make sure that you are as truthful as possible when asked about your identity and financial situation. You can also expect to be required to submit two forms of identification. This can be a combination of your driver’s license, Social Security card, passport, or another government-issued identification.
How Long Does the 341 Hearing Last?
The trustee conducts the hearing, which typically does not last longer than 10 minutes. However, you could be in court for longer. Other bankruptcy filers may have their 341 hearings scheduled before yours during the same hour.
You can also expect a longer 341 hearing if the trustee is not satisfied with the information presented. In that case, the trustee may request your hearing be continued to a later date and time.
What Happens If I Miss My 341 Meeting?
The worst thing you can do is ignore your obligation to attend the meeting. Even with a good reason for your absence, dismissal is possible. Intentionally missing the meeting or forgetting about it guarantees you will miss out on debt discharge. You must take the meeting seriously and do everything you can to attend.
Of course, there are rare occasions on which someone cannot attend their meeting. The best thing you can do if there is a conflict with attending your 341 Meeting is to contact your attorney. There are some rare instances in which your in-person attendance requirement can be waived. (This was more common during the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders and more meetings were held virtually.)
There is a chance your attorney can negotiate a new meeting time with the trustee and with the court. Doing so usually requires paperwork, but there are instances when 341 Meetings are rescheduled quickly due to an illness. Trustees tend to understand reasonable emergencies but are less forgiving when there was time to make other arrangements, but you did not bother to do so.
To learn more about what will be asked of you at the 341 Meeting, check out this information from Nolo.com.
What If I Can Not Ever Attend My 341 Meeting?
Most of the time, if someone is unable to attend the 341 Meeting, it is rescheduled for another time and date. But there are instances in which an individual is unable to ever attend a meeting or attend a meeting within a reasonable period. Some of the most common reasons people are unable to attend 341 Meetings include:
- Chronic illness
- Military service
These are situations in which you cannot reschedule the meeting – at least not within a few days or weeks – so other arrangements must be made. Most of the time, you will know at the time you file that attendance at the meeting is impossible and your attorney can help you to make other arrangements. Be clear and honest with your bankruptcy attorney about your situation and understand that it could make filing for bankruptcy more complicated.
Making Sure Your 341 Meeting of Creditors Does Not Result in a Dismissal of Your Case
The worst thing you can do when it comes to your 341 Meeting is to just not show up and assume that everything will be fine. It will not be. You need to address any concerns about the meeting as early as possible in the filing process and make sure that you and your attorney come up with a plan for dealing with the meeting.
To learn more about what you can do to make sure the 341 Meeting of Creditors goes smoothly or to discuss filing for bankruptcy with an experienced professional, contact The Alliance Legal Group, PLLC at 757-923-4357 or contact us online to schedule a FREE, no-obligation consultation.
Bankruptcy Lawyer Virginia Beach, VA | Bankruptcy Lawyer Chesapeake, VA | Bankruptcy Lawyer Suffolk, VA | Bankruptcy Lawyer Norfolk, VA | Bankruptcy Lawyer Portsmouth, VA
#AffordableBankruptcyLawyerVirginiaBeach #LawyersinVirginiaBeach #VirginiaBeachLawyers