Many people who are considering filing for bankruptcy have probably heard about the bankruptcy trustee. I’m a bankruptcy attorney in Arizona and I receive questions from clients on a regular basis about the role of the bankruptcy trustee and how those roles may differ in a chapter 7 case versus a chapter 13 case.
The Role of the Bankruptcy Trustee in a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case
In chapter 7 bankruptcy cases, the bankruptcy trustee is obligated to obtain information and documentation from the debtor so that the court can verify the information that is disclosed in the bankruptcy petition and schedules. The bankruptcy trustee will also preside at the meeting of the creditors. At this meeting, the bankruptcy trustee will place the debtor or debtors under oath and ask them questions about the how truthful the information that they have provided is. They will also ask about specific assets involved in the case.
The bankruptcy trustee in a chapter 7 case will also decide if there is any reason to object to the exemptions claimed by the debtor or if there is a reason to object to a discharge being entered. In cases where there are assets that have to be distributed, the trustee will oversee this process as well.
The Role of the Bankruptcy Trustee in a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Case
The role of the bankruptcy trustee in a chapter 13 case is much different than the role of the trustee in a chapter 7 case. The bankruptcy trustee in a chapter 13 case will do most of the document review work and preside over the meeting of the creditors just as with the chapter 7 case. However, in addition to this, the chapter 13 bankruptcy trustee will also evaluate the payment plan that is being proposed and make further recommendations for it. He/she will also review the claims submitted to the creditors and accept or reject your monthly payment. Once it is accepted, the chapter 13 bankruptcy trustee will distribute your money received from the monthly payment to your creditors.
Is the Bankruptcy Trustee On Your Side?
All in all, the bankruptcy trustee is neither on the side of the debtor nor the creditor. He/she is simply a middle man and takes an administrative role in processing the claims and the bankruptcy case as a whole. As long as you have a knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney who is looking out for you and properly prepared your case and you have been truthful in all of your claims and documents, the bankruptcy trustee will see that your case is settled the way you had hoped it would.