Every bankruptcy requires a bankruptcy trustee. But what exactly does a bankruptcy trustee do?
What is a Bankruptcy Trustee?
In every bankruptcy filing, an impartial “bankruptcy trustee” is assigned to the case. The trustee has many different responsibilities in the case depending on the type of bankruptcy involved. In general terms, the role of the trustee is to represent the interests of the creditors and see that they recover as much of the debt owed to them as possible, as well as ensure the process runs as smoothly as possible from start to finish.
In a Chapter 7 filing, the trustee would be responsible for collecting and liquidating your nonexempt property to pay your creditors. If you have no assets that can be liquidated after allowing for exemptions, your trustee would declare it a “no asset” case. The trustee would also oversee things like creditor meetings, creditor notifications and other items.
In Chapter 13, there isn’t any liquidation since the debt is being repaid over time. The trustee is responsible for managing the payment plan set out in your petition. The trustee collects the payments from the debtor and disburses the money to the creditors. As in Chapter 7, the trustee would also be the main point of contact for creditors and arrange any necessary meetings associated with the case.
In any bankruptcy case, the trustee is also charged with the responsibility of seeing that everything about the case is done according to the rules. Your trustee is the one who would object to exempt property that you may want to claim if the trustee feels that it is outside the scope of exemption. The trustee is also the person who could seek to have your bankruptcy petition dismissed if fraud or other wrongdoing is found in the case.
Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
Depending on your situation, if you’re considering filing for bankruptcy, you’ll need to determine which form of bankruptcy, either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, you should file.
Chapter 7 (also known an straight bankruptcy) is the most common form of bankruptcy and is available to consumers and businesses.
Under Chapter 7, assets are sold off so that the proceeds can go to paying debt. All proceeds from the sales of those assets are handed over to a trustee, who then pays down any and all creditors. After all creditors have been paid off they are no longer able to collect funds directly from you and your debts are cancelled, meaning you are no longer responsible for them.
You are not able to discharge the following debts under Chapter 7:
- Alimony and child support
- Drunk driving judgments, criminal fines, restitution
- Debts incurred as the result of fraud or intentional wrongdoing
- Back taxes under 3 years old
- Student loans
- Recent purchases made for substantial amounts
- Contracts involving titles or liens such as land or automobiles
Chapter 13 reorganizes debt so that you are able to pay back debts over the next three to five years. This pay-back plan is called a debt repayment schedule. Based on your income, and how much you owe, you’ll repay 10-100% of the debt you owe.
You are not able to discharge the following debts under Chapter 13:
- Alimony and child support
- Drunk driving judgments
- Criminal fines
- Student loans
Reasons to File Chapter 7
Chapter 7 bankruptcy should be chosen if the following apply:
- You have no hope and have no future hope of being able to repay any debts
- Your debts do not have co-signers on them
- You are going to be sued by creditors
- You don’t qualify for Chapter 13
Reasons to File Chapter 13
Chapter 13 bankruptcy should be chosen if the following apply:
- You have already filed Chapter 7 in the past six years
- Your debts have cosigners
- You will be able to pay your debts within three to five years
- Your income disqualifies you from filing for Chapter 7
- You need relief from collection proceedings and you want to pay your creditors back but just need some breathing room to get your finances under control
- You want to be able to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy some time in the future
- You are behind on your mortgage
- You owe back taxes
- You have assets that could be liquidated in Chapter 7
- You’re a farmer with debt not related to your farming operations and do not qualify for Chapter 12
Working with a Bankruptcy Attorney
Bankruptcy can be an overwhelming process. That’s why we advise that you work with a phoenix chapter 13 bankruptcy lawyer that is familiar with various debt repayment options. We are committed to helping our clients understand their rights and options under the bankruptcy law and developing the debt relief solution that makes the most sense for each individual. We invite you to call (602) 648-3274 or contact our Arizona office to schedule a free initial consultation.
668 N. 44th St., Ste 320, Phoenix, AZ 85008