Saturday, March 9, 2013

Is it possible to reschedule your meeting of creditors?

In each chapter 7 and chapter 13 bankruptcy that is filed by a debtor they will be required to attend a hearing known as "the meeting of creditors" also known as a "341(a)" meeting - named after the bankruptcy code section that requires this meeting.

Most attorneys refer to this meeting as your "hearing" or "meeting with the trustee" and in Oregon and Washington bankruptcy cases it is normally held about 4 to 6 weeks after the case is filed.

The hearings are set during the weekday anywhere from 8 AM to 4:30 PM.  Once your case is filed the Court will assign a specific date and time of the hearing.

Sometimes I am asked if the hearing can be rescheduled and moved to a different time or date. The answer is almost always no.  The US Trustee (part of the US Dept of Justice that oversees bankruptcy cases) has a very strict policy about resetting these hearings. They will only allow the hearing to be reset for a few very specific reasons such as: 1) medical or family emergency, 2) death of debtor or debtor's attorney, 3) a natural disaster, 4) debtor's incarceration, 5) absence due to military service, or other compelling circumstances.

The hearing will not be allowed to be reset for other reasons, specifically: 1) work conflict, 2) travel, 3) routine medical appointment, 4) failure to properly calendar the hearing, 5) failure to receive notice of the hearing.
 
The most common question that I get is if the hearing can be rescheduled due to a work conflict or travel. As you can see above, neither of those situations would allow the meeting to be rescheduled.

It is important to let your attorney know before your bankruptcy is filed if you have any planned vacations, work conflicts or travel in your near future.  The attorney may be able to correctly time your bankurptcy filing to avoid any of those conflicts.

The official US Trustee policy on rescheduling 341 hearings is found here: http://www.justice.gov/ust/r18/docs/general/Rescheduling_Regional_Policy.pdf