Every bankruptcy case is assigned a bankruptcy trustee. Trustees are people who are appointed to oversee and administer the bankruptcy case. They are impartial, third-parties appointed by the court to protect you and the interests of your creditors.
What are the duties of a bankruptcy trustee?
The duties of a bankruptcy trustee vary depending on the chapter of bankruptcy filed and the specifics of the case. While each case is unique, generally the trustee’s role is to administer the case, look for instances of bankruptcy fraud, determine if any creditors were treated improperly prior to filing, conduct the Meeting of Creditors, liquidate non-exempt assets, and distribute money to creditors.
What does “liquidate non-exempt assets” mean?
Let us begin by saying: in the majority of personal bankruptcy cases people get to keep most or all of their assets and personal belongings. Learn about how assets are protected through bankruptcy in our article Filing Bankruptcy Does Not Mean Giving Up All Of Your Possessions.
When a bankruptcy case is filed it creates what is known as a “bankruptcy estate,” which is the debtor’s interest in his or her property at the time of filing for bankruptcy. The bankruptcy trustee is given control of the bankruptcy estate. This concept may sound frightening, but as long as all assets are listed and exempt in your bankruptcy petition, there is no risk of assets being seized and sold.
The Bankruptcy Trustee has the power to seize and sell assets, then use the proceeds to pay a pro-rata share to certain of your creditors. As long as you disclose all of your assets prior to filing and properly value them, you will know if you have any assets at risk of being liquidated. Further, the vast majority of Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases are “no-asset” cases. This means the debtor (the person who files for bankruptcy) does not have assets that can legally be seized.
What is the role of the bankruptcy trustee at the Meeting of Creditors?
The bankruptcy trustee’s role at the Meeting of Creditors is to:
- Verify your identity (you will need to provide identification and proof of your social security number).
- Ask you questions under oath, under penalty of perjury.
- Ensure your bankruptcy petition is truthful, accurate, and complete.
- Examine your case for bankruptcy fraud.
- Determine if you have unprotected assets for the trustee to seize and sell to pay back some or all of your creditors.
Most of the questions you will be asked are routine and easy to answer. Here are a few common questions the trustee may ask:
- Did you review your bankruptcy petition and schedules before you filed them with the court?
- Is all of the information contained in your bankruptcy papers true and correct to the best of your knowledge?
- Has anything changed since the date you filed your case?
- Did you list all of your debts?
- Did you disclose all of your assets?
The bankruptcy trustee will not badger you or demand an answer as to why you are filing for bankruptcy. Their role is a facilitator, not an adversary.
A former bankruptcy trustee works at your law firm?
Yes! James served as a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Trustee for 12 years. During his tenure, he administered hundreds of cases as a Bankruptcy Trustee, and now he uses his in-depth knowledge to help our clients successfully through the bankruptcy process.
All of us here at the Law Offices of Barbara B. Braziel want to help you get out from under the weight of financial stress and gain financial freedom. We invite you to read about the clients we’ve helped here.
If you live in Savannah, GA or the surrounding areas and have questions about your debt relief options, let’s meet for a free consultation. Please reach out to us at (912) 351-9000 or contact us by filling out this simple web form.
We proudly serve the people of Savannah, GA and the surrounding areas, including Richmond Hill, Hinesville, Pooler, Port Wentworth, Tybee Island, Clyo, Ellabel, Midway, Ludowici, Springfield, Pembroke, Brooklet, and Garden City.
We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. Find out more about Bankruptcy in our guide: All About Bankruptcy.