When you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, appearing at meetings is not something you will ordinarily have to do outside of getting together with your attorney.
However, there is one meeting you will be required to attend. The 341 meeting, as it is called, is all about debts and creditors, and getting through it will not be as difficult as you might think.
About the meeting
In the United States Bankruptcy Code, Section 341 sets forth the requirement for a debtor to be examined under oath at a gathering of his or her creditors. Hence the name given to the meeting. You will not have to appear before the judge; the 341 meeting will be held outside of court. A trustee who is assigned by the United States Trustee will be in charge. The trustee will ask you questions about your current financial status, the property you own and the liabilities you have, and you will provide the answers under penalty of perjury. In advance of the meeting, your attorney will likely provide pertinent documents, such as your bank statements, tax returns, car titles and the like, so that the trustee can review them.
The 341 meeting is also known as the meeting of creditors because they will be notified and invited to attend. The good news from your standpoint is that they rarely accept the invitation, but anyone who does appear can question you about the disposition of your assets and any other topic that is pertinent to the administration of your bankruptcy matter. On the other hand, creditors who choose not to come to the meeting will not lose any of their rights relative to your case.
A word of caution
Your bankruptcy attorney will accompany you to the 341 meeting, and you will be reminded of the requirement to appear. If you do not, the trustee can request that the court dismiss your case. Keep in mind that the meeting usually only takes a few minutes and your attorney will see that you are well-prepared. The purpose is to provide the trustee with the information he or she needs to efficiently manage your bankruptcy case.