What is a Bankruptcy Trustee?

If you've done any reading about bankruptcy, you've probably run across the word "trustee" many times.  Who is this trustee character? 

Every Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy case is assigned a trustee.   The U.S. Trustee's office is a division of the U.S. Department of Justice--their job is to police the bankruptcy system for abuses.  They also appoint panel trustees to each case.  The panel trustees are appointed to administer individual cases.

Trustees run the meeting of creditors and ask for certain information, including tax returns and bank statements.  In Chapter 7, the trustee's job is to see if there are any assets available for creditors. If there are, the trustee can sell the assets and distribute the proceeds to creditors.

In Chapter 13, the trustee's job is to recommend to the court whether your payment plan is adequate.  Then they act as the middlemen, distributing payment to your creditors under the plan.

In any bankruptcy case, the U.S Trustee's office and panel trustees are important players.  With the help of a good lawyer, you’ll know what to expect from them and what you need to provide.