What to Know about Your Bankruptcy Trustee

If you have made the decision to file for chapter 7 bankruptcy, you will be coming into contact with several unfamiliar terms and concepts, and one of them is the bankruptcy trustee. Once you have completed your federal filing, you will receive written notice of its acceptance and a notification of your assigned bankruptcy trustee. This person will oversee your bankruptcy case from beginning to end, but most filers have only one or two contacts with their trustee. Often the trustee is a judge, but sometimes they are attorneys with vast bankruptcy experience. To learn more about the role of the trustee in your bankruptcy, read on.

The Inspection

When you file for bankruptcy, you will complete a section where you list your personal property, vehicles, and real estate holdings. In some instances, the trustee will make a personal visit to your home to inspect and evaluate your property. To understand why, it may help to know that a chapter 7 bankruptcy filing is also known as a "liquidation" filing. Your property could be seized and sold to help pay off creditors.

You are entitled to use bankruptcy exemptions, however, to reduce the value of your property which may allow you to keep it. Often, you will end up being allowed to keep your family home and your personal possessions, unless you have valuable art, furs, boats, jewelry, or antique furniture. You will have plenty of advance notice of this visit and no property will be taken at that time. Your property may be photographed and notes will be taken. In some locales, the trustee sends a representative to do the inspection.

The Creditor's Meeting

For some bankruptcy filers, the creditor's meeting presents the one and only opportunity to meet their trustee. This meeting is attended by many other bankruptcy filers, but you will get your turn eventually. Names are often called alphabetically, but attorneys who have other obligations can get their cases bumped to the top. This meeting will consist of a 2 minute (in most cases) questioning by the trustee and will be over before you know it.

How the Trustee Gets Paid

You may think this subject is none of your business, but you could not be more wrong. The trustee's compensation is actually based on the dollar amount that they are able to seize and sell to satisfy creditors. The amounts are set by law, and they get a flat payment even on cases for which no property is seized.

To learn more about the duties of the trustee and how it affects your bankruptcy case, speak to a bankruptcy attorney like Dunnigan & Messier P.C.