I can’t leave the house. Can I appear at my bankruptcy hearing (341 Meeting of Creditors) by telephone?

Yes, sometimes, but only if you have a good reason.

Let’s say we filed bankruptcy today.  You’d get a case number, and in about 30 days, we would have our 341 Meeting of Creditors with a bankruptcy trustee.  Normally, you have to go to this meeting, appear physically, and the trustee asks you a series of questions.  At the meeting, the trustee will ask you to verify your identify with your driver’s license and social security card.

However, some people are house-bound, and they cannot physically appear at the 341 Meeting.  In this kind of situation, your attorney can file an “Ex parte motion to appear/attend 341 meeting of creditors telephonically.”  This allows you to call in to the meeting and appear by speakerphone.  Since the trustee cannot verify your driver’s license/social security card at your home, you will need a notary public to go to your home to verify those items over the phone at your regular time/date for your 341 Meeting.

I have attached “Appendix H:  Declaration Regarding Administration of Oath and Confirmation of Identify and Social Security Number” from the Handbook for Chapter 7 Trustees.  This is the form the bankruptcy trustee will ask your notary to fill out.

Here are the things you need to keep in mind:

  1.  You need a good reason.  “House-bound because of advanced age and poor health” is a good reason. ”  “Netflix marathon” is not.  (We all do it, but it’s not a good reason).
  2. There is no guarantee that the trustee will endorse your order.  They usually do, but it’s not a sure thing.
  3. Your attorney normally charges extra for this kind of motion work beyond your regular bankruptcy fees.
  4. You need to find a notary to come to your home.  It’s not the trustee’s job and not your attorney’s job.  Most people are surprised to find out that they know someone with a notary stamp who is willing to do this to help out a friend.