When you file for bankruptcy you must attend a hearing called a meeting of creditors. For an overview of the meeting of creditors, see my article entitled “What to Do at Your Meeting of Creditors.” If you know you will not be able to attend your meeting of creditors because you are physically unable to attend due to a serious medical condition, incarceration, etc., there is a mechanism to have someone testify on your behalf as power of attorney.
The first step is to sign a power of attorney in favor of someone you trust. This is typically a family member, close friend, or relationship partner. It is a good idea to have the power of attorney document notarized so there is no question about the authenticity of your signature on that document. After you sign a power of attorney document, you still need court-approval before your power of attorney can testify on your behalf at your meeting of creditors.
You get court approval for your power of attorney by filing a motion. The motion is called “Motion for Debtor to Testify at Section 341 Meeting of Creditors Through Power of Attorney.” “Section 341” refers to section 341 of the United States Bankruptcy Code. That is the section which requires you to testify at a meeting of creditors. This motion must be served to the trustee appointed by the court to administer your case, as well as all of your creditors. They have fourteen days to object to your motion. Although in twelve years of practicing bankruptcy law I have never seen a party to the case object to a motion like this, the court will not act until the fourteen-day notice period has run out.
You have to file a motion like this far enough in advance so that the notice period runs out and your bankruptcy judge can sign an order allowing the power of attorney to testify on your behalf before the date and time of your meeting of creditors. The bankruptcy trustee will not hold your meeting of creditors if your power of attorney has not obtained an order from the court allowing him or her to testify on your behalf.
Your power of attorney must bring to the meeting of creditors his or her driver license (or government-issued photographic identification) and his or her social security card. He or she must also bring your driver license (or government-issued photographic identification) and your social security card. If your power of attorney does not bring all four of those items, the bankruptcy trustee will not hold your meeting of creditors. Your meeting of creditors must be held and concluded in order for your bankruptcy case to move forward so that your debts can be eliminated.
The above information is a general overview and is not intended to be used as legal advice. If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, the best thing to do is call our office at 248-557-3645 and schedule a free consultation so you can receive advice which is tailored to your specific circumstances.
By: Michael Benkstein, Esq.
Managing Attorney, Bankruptcy Department
The Law Offices of Joumana Kayrouz, PLLC