Do You Have to Go to Court to File Bankruptcy in MN During COVID-19?

Posted by Margaret Henehan on January 20, 2021 at 7:45 AM
Margaret Henehan
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A picture of a Minnesota court house surrounded by green grass and trees, against a blue sky with white clouds, posing the question, Do I have to go to court when I file bankruptcy in Minnesota during the COVID-19??While you would normally have to go to court when filing bankruptcy, COVID-19 restrictions have changed the game. It is now possible to file bankruptcy without ever having to physically go to court in Minnesota.

A bankruptcy filing is a federal court proceeding. Your case is filed in the District of Minnesota, which is part of the federal courts system. This means that instead of your case being filed at your local county courthouse, your case is filed through the federal courthouse in either Minneapolis or St. Paul.

The 341 Meeting

Every case that is filed, whether it is a chapter 13 or a chapter 7, has a meeting of creditors, also known as a 341 meeting. This is a required appearance by client and attorney. Usually this meeting takes place about 30 days after your case is filed. This meeting is normally held in person at the St. Paul or Minneapolis federal courthouse, or if you live outside the Twin Cities, there are other meeting locations, like St. Cloud, Duluth etc. I say ‘normally held’ because as I write this we are still in the middle of a pandemic. Covid-19 protections have closed the federal courthouses and other 341 meeting locations to the public. This means that right now anyone that is filing bankruptcy does not attend an in person meeting.

Having Your 341 Meeting by Telephone

Right now most chapter 7 trustees are conducting the meeting of creditors (341 meeting) by telephone. Essentially this is a conference call between your trustee, your attorney and yourself. You can do this meeting from the comfort of your home, workplace etc. Chapter 13 trustees and a couple of chapter 7 trustees are conducting their meetings by using the online video software, Zoom. Again, this allows you to log into your meeting of creditors from wherever you are located.

The meetings go just as this would if they were being held in person. After about 9 months of conducting meetings this way, the court has it down to a science.

So while you do still have to attend a meeting of creditors after your case is filed, it doesn’t mean you have to walk into a federal courthouse, at least for now. At some point the Covid-19 protections will lift, and I believe we will be back to in person appearances.


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Topics: bankruptcy in minnesota, covid-19

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