This is one of my most frequently asked questions from a prospective bankruptcy client. When researching bankruptcy, or speaking to people that have filed, you will hear the word ‘trustee’ come up frequently. Who is the trustee?
When you file a bankruptcy, whether it’s a chapter 7 or a chapter 13, a trustee is assigned to your case by the bankruptcy court. The trustee is not a judge, they are a local attorney. The trustee works on behalf of the Department of Justice. I always tell my clients, the trustee is the ‘other side’, just like there are prosecutors and defenders, the trustee is on the other side from the client, the debtor. This can sound adversarial, but it’s really not.
Trustee Duties in a Minnesota Bankruptcy
The trustee has many duties when he/she is assigned to your case. Mainly though, the trustee is making sure your bankruptcy petition is true and accurate, and that you have listed all your assets and listed all your creditors. The trustee after reviewing the paperwork filed with the courts, will hold a 341 meeting, also called a Meeting of Creditors. This is where the trustee examines the debtor to make sure the paperwork is correct. The trustee swears the debtor in under oath and asks a series of yes/no questions.
If you only listed one vehicle on your paperwork but the trustee finds through the Department of Motor Vehicles you have two vehicles registered in your name, the trustee has a duty to find out why you didn’t list this additional car. That is just one example where the trustee is trying to make sure there are no additional assets you have that you could use to pay your creditors.
After the trustee conducts the meeting of creditors, the case is wrapped up administratively. Either with the trustee concluding that everything is true and correct and there are no assets to sell, or in some cases finding there are assets to sell. At that point the trustee and the debtor’s attorney work together to finalize the case.
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