One of the reasons that a person hires a bankruptcy attorney is to guide him through the bankruptcy process, but that doesn’t mean that he shouldn’t try to learn as much about the process as possible. One important thing to know is who the players are in the process. Two of the most important people are the trustee and the U.S. Trustee.
From the Colorado Bankruptcy Court’s website comes the best explanation:
In all Chapter 7, 12, and 13 cases, and in some Chapter 11 cases, a trustee is assigned. In Chapter 7 cases they are called a “panel trustee,” and a group of some two dozen trustees are assigned by rotation. In Chapter 12 and Chapter 13, the trustee is always the same, and is called the “standing trustee.” That means that your Chapter 12 trustee will likely always be the same person, and your Chapter 13 trustee will always be the same person. The trustee’s job is to administer the bankruptcy case, or the bankruptcy estate, to make sure creditors are treated as contemplated by the Bankruptcy Code, and to preside over the meeting of creditors. The trustee either collects and sells non-exempt property, as in the case of a Chapter 7, or collects and pays out money from a repayment plan, as in the case of a Chapter 12 or Chapter 13. The trustee can require that you provide, under penalty of perjury, information and documents, either before, during, or after the meeting of creditors. Failure to cooperate with the trustee could be grounds to have your discharge denied. Trustees are generally, but not always, lawyers. They are appointed by the United States Trustee. Their fees come out of the bankruptcy filing fees or of the money collected in a bankruptcy case.
Trustees are not your attorney, they do not represent you, they work on behalf of the bankruptcy estate and all of its creditors.
The United States Trustee’s Office is part of the U.S. Department of Justice, and is separate from the court. The United States Trustee’s Office is a “watchdog” agency, charged with monitoring bankruptcy cases, appointing and supervising all trustees, and identifying fraud in bankruptcy cases. The United States Trustee’s Office cannot give you legal advice, but they can give you information about the status of a case. If you are having problems with a trustee, or have evidence of fraud in a case, you can contact them. The United States Trustee’s Office reviews all bankruptcy petitions and pleadings filed in cases, and participates in many proceedings, but they do not administer specific cases. The trustees whom they appoint administer the cases. They can file motions in the bankruptcy case, such as a motion to dismiss the case or convert it to another Chapter.
If you have questions about the bankruptcy process or whether or not it’s your best option, we hope you’ll come in for a free, no-obligation consultation with a bankruptcy attorney. You can schedule an appointment online or call 303.331.3403 for a time that is convenient for you. We also offer phone consultations.