Who is the Bankruptcy Trustee?

When a debtor files for bankruptcy under chapter 7 or 13 of the U.S. Bankruptcy code a “bankruptcy trustee” is appointed by the US trustee.  In certain Jurisdictions there are different titles given to the “bankruptcy trustee” but the purpose is the same.  Since the US Trustee is unable to personally handle each and every case personally he/she appoints the bankruptcy trustees to administer the bankruptcy estate, while the US trustee and the Department of Justice oversees the cases in a broader sense.  The trustees’ role is to represent the interests of the creditors.  The trustee collects non-exempt property of the estate, makes objections to certain exemptions, invalidates certain transfers, makes an accounting of the estate and distributes funds collected from the estate to creditors in order of preference.

In most cases, there is what is called a 341 meeting of creditors held approximately 30 days after the case is filed. Prior to that meeting the debtor or his/her attorney will submit 2 years of taxes, the last 60 days of paystubs (or proof of any income otherwise), any car/home evaluations and statements of IRA’s or other retirement funds.  At the meeting of creditors the trustee will review documents such as a drivers license and proof social security number, to make sure the debtor is who they say they are.  Then the trustee will ask if there are any creditors present wishing to object or ask questions at this proceeding.  It is rare for a creditor to show up, but typically if they do it is to ask where certain property is.  Typically after this brief meeting the bankruptcy trustee will close the meeting and file an accounting showing that the case is finished, in his/her eyes.

 

Important points:

1.  The meeting of creditors should just be a few minutes and a quick examination to verify the debtors identity and intent to file.

2.  It is important to be on time for this meeting.

3.  Usually there are several other debtors at the meeting waiting in line to be heard so the wait can be a few hours, although the meeting usually only lasts a few minutes.