What is a Bankruptcy Trustee?
A bankruptcy trustee is the person with the responsibility to ensure that a bankruptcy filing is properly handled both legally, procedurally, and administratively. The U.S. Department of Justice administers the U.S. Trustee Program. This program is run by 21 regional trustee offices through the United States. These offices contain trustees specific to the type of bankruptcy being filed.
The duties of the case specific trustees are the same, to oversee the proper administration of pending bankruptcy bases, but the each trustee type also has specific duties based on the type of bankruptcy pending with the courts. Here is a list of the primary bankruptcy trustee types by case:
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Trustee: These are private trustees that locate and oversee the acquisition/liquidation of a debtor’s unexempt assets in a chapter 7 bankruptcy filing.
Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Trustee: These are appointed trustees that can be appointed to act as the trustee, or person overseeing the business and business assets in the chapter 11 reorganization process.
Chapter 12 Bankruptcy Trustee: These are the trustee of the estate for family farm and/or fisherman through the administration of chapter 12 reorganization plan.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Trustee: These are known as standing trustees that act as the estate trustee for individuals conducting chapter 13 repayment plan bankruptcies.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Trustee / “Panel Trustee”
A chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee is often known as a “panel trustee”, or an “interim trustee”. The reason is that chapter 7 trustees are individuals appointed to serve as a member of the chapter 7 panel of private trustees. These trustees act as an interim trustee during the pendency of a chapter 7 bankruptcy filing. This panel trustee is to perform the following duties:
- Collect and liquidate any unexempt assets owned by the debtor.
- Ensure that the debtor performs his/her statement of intentions.
- Investigate the financial affairs of the debtor including conducting a 341 Hearing.
- Object to discharge of debtor when necessary.
- Examine and object to proofs of claim when necessary.
- File interim and final reports with the court.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Trustee / “Standing Trustee”
A chapter 13 bankruptcy trustee is known as a “standing trustee” because these trustees are appointed by the U.S. Trustee, for that region, to oversee all chapter 13 filings and carryout the duties of the trustee’s office. The standing chapter 13 trustee, in addition to performing many of the same duties of a chapter 7 trustee, must also perform the following duties:
- Appear at hearings for property valuation, plan confirmation, and plan modifications.
- Advise and assist the debtor regarding chapter 13 plan performance.
- Ensure that the debtor makes timely plan payments.
Why Does a Bankruptcy Attorney Matter When Dealing With a Bankruptcy Trustee
A skilled bankruptcy attorney understands the duties and obligations of a Bankruptcy Trustee. This understanding will ensure that the attorney fully complies with the needs and requests of the trustee. Proper compliance will usually lead to a case being seamlessly handled through the legal process. Simply put, if an attorney can make the job of a trustee easier, the trustee will usually make the process seem easier for the debtor/client.
At Barr, Jones & Associates, our bankruptcy lawyers are experienced handling both chapter 7 and chapter 13 cases. We understand the needs and obligations of the bankruptcy trustees. Therefore, we employ a system when preparing a case that is aimed at ensuring the job of the trustee is made easy, which generally results in a case being a positive experience for our clients leading to a positive outcome. Call today for your free telephone conversation, to see how our team of bankruptcy attorneys can work towards getting you on the road to financial freedom again.
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