In your Chapter 7 Bankruptcy process there will be 3 main characters: you, your attorney and the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Trustee assigned to your case. In short, a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Trustee is the person who oversees your Bankruptcy Case.
There are currently ten Chapter 7 Trustees in the State of Connecticut who are appointed by the United States Trustee. The Trustee Program is a part of the Department of Justice.
“The United States Trustee Program is a component of the Department of Justice that seeks to promote the efficiency and prote ct the integrity of the Federal bankruptcy system. To further the public interest in the just, speedy and economical resolution of cases filed under the Bankruptcy Code, the Program monitors the conduct of bankruptcy parties and private estate trustees, oversees related administrative functions, and acts to ensure compliance with applicable laws and procedures. It also identifies and helps investigate bankruptcy fraud and abuse in coordination with United States Attorneys, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and other law enforcement agencies.” –The U.S. Department of Justice
Upon filing of your Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Petition you will be assigned a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Trustee randomly by the Bankruptcy Court’s computer system. I will deliver the name and address of your Chapter 7 Trustee to you by phone or email the day you sign and I file your Petition, and a few days later an official Notice from the Bankruptcy Court will be mailed to you with this and other pertinent information about your Bankruptcy case.
The primary duties of the Chapter 7 Trustee are (1) to examine your Bankruptcy Petition and Schedules, (2) conduct a 341 Meeting of the Creditors (a Hearing you must attend and testify at under oath) and (3) determine if you have any non-exempt assets that can be liquidated to pay your creditors. Additionally, the Trustee has the power to refer cases to higher authorities to be investigated for Bankruptcy Fraud and/or other crimes, if appropriate. Therefore, it is imperative that you fully disclose all of your income, assets and liabilities to me during your Bankruptcy process so I may properly prepare your Bankruptcy Petition to avoid any improprieties.
After your Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Petition is filed but before you attend your 341 Meeting we will mail to you a Questionnaire provided by your Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Trustee. The questions are simple and you should be able to answer them all without assistance (but of course, we are always here to guide you). An example of one inquiry on the questionnaire would be “have you ever filed bankruptcy before?” If the answer is “yes,” there will be a few follow-up questions like “What was the case number?” and “Did you receive a discharge?”
Your Chapter 7 Trustee will also provide to my office a list of required documents that the Trustee will examine in conjunction with your Bankruptcy Petition. The list of requested documents will include such things as Tax Returns, Bank Statements and Paystubs. Usually I will already have everything that is requested, but I may ask you to provide additional documents to satisfy the requests of your Chapter 7 Trustee.
The next part of my Chapter 7 Bankruptcy series will take you through your 341 Meeting of the Creditors so you are fully prepared to attend the Hearing.
Contact Attorney Theresa Rose DeGray at Consumer Legal Services, LLC (203-713-8877) for more information on this and other Bankruptcy related topics.