You made the difficult decision to file for bankruptcy in an effort to get your finances under control. Your creditors no longer call you requesting payment, and you feel safe in knowing the bankruptcy trustee appointed to your case will handle your creditors. The date for your first meeting of creditors comes around, and the trustee calls your name. You are not there, and now you could be facing more financial trouble than you were before.
Possibility of Dismissal
By not attending the first meeting of creditors, you put your bankruptcy case in jeopardy. The bankruptcy trustee can have your case dismissed. If this happens, the automatic stay that protects you from creditors will no longer be in place. The bankruptcy court may not allow you to file for bankruptcy again for 180 days. During this time, your creditors can come after you again. If you are in default on a home mortgage or a motor vehicle loan, the lender could foreclose on your home or repossess your car.
Taking Proactive Measures
If you have a scheduling conflict with the date of the first meeting of creditors, contact your bankruptcy attorney or the bankruptcy court to see if you can reschedule the meeting. If you suddenly become ill or unable to attend the meeting at the last minute because of an emergency, contact your bankruptcy attorney to instruct him to ask for a continuance at a later date. If you have already missed your meeting of creditors, have your attorney contact the bankruptcy trustee to explain your situation. The trustee may grant you a continuance.
Filing the Petition
After you file your bankruptcy petition, an automatic stay takes effect and prevents your creditors from trying to collect from you while your bankruptcy case is in process. In addition to filing your bankruptcy petition, you file your bankruptcy schedules, which detail the creditors to whom you owe money. When you file your case, the clerk of the bankruptcy court transmits your information to the U.S. trustee, who appoints a local bankruptcy trustee to administer your case. The U.S. Trustee Program is a branch of the Department of Justice that oversees bankruptcy cases.
The bankruptcy trustee conducts the first meeting of creditors. According to the laws of bankruptcy procedure, the meeting must take place between 21 and 40 days of the date you filed your petition. During the meeting, you must answer questions about your financial situation under oath. The bankruptcy trustee will ask certain questions, and if your creditors elect to attend the meeting, they can also ask you questions. They won't be able to do this if you don't show up for the meeting.
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