Bankruptcy cases are administered by trustees appointed by the Office of the U.S. trustee, which is part of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). Typically, the debtor never has to appear before a judge. So who is this trustee who will be overseeing your case and what are her or his duties?

Chapter 7 trustees are private practitioners who may continue working in their professions in addition to administering bankruptcy cases. Georgia attorneys and accountants, for example, may apply for the U.S. Trustee Program in order to become eligible to administer cases assigned to bankruptcy judges. They are allowed to maintain private practices that are entirely separate from their duties as a Chapter 7 trustee. Trustees are appointed at random to individual cases from a pool of available trustees who have been approved by the Office of the U.S. Trustee. As a result, Chapter 7 trustees are known as panel trustees.

If you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you can expect the trustee to review your petition and schedules, and at a minimum:

  • Conduct the meeting of creditors
  • Determine whether you meet the criteria established in the means testing
  • Determine whether you have disclosed all of your assets and all of your debts
  • Liquidate any non-exempt assets for the benefit of your creditors

Every judicial district such as the Northern District of Georgia (NDGA) has at least one permanent Chapter 13 trustee, known as a standing trustee. The NDGA has three permanent standing trustees.

If you file a Chapter 13 case, the standing trustee assigned to administer your case reviews your petition and schedules, and at a minimum:

  • Conducts the meeting of creditors and the confirmation hearing on your repayment plan
  • Determine whether you have disclosed all of your assets and all of your debts
  • Recommend approval (confirmation) or dismissal of your repayment plan
  • Collects your payments according to your approved plan