3 Important Players in Bankruptcy Court

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Written by Jamie Lee Ruiz, Esq.  
Updated May 2, 2020

Summary

In addition to the person filing bankruptcy, other individuals who will play an important role in your bankruptcy case are your case trustee, your bankruptcy judge, and - if you have one - your bankruptcy attorney. Let’s take a look at some of the important players -other than your creditors - that you may encounter in your Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

In addition to the person filing bankruptcy, other individuals who will play an important role in your bankruptcy case are your case trustee, your bankruptcy judge, and - if you have one - your bankruptcy attorney. Let’s take a look at some of the important players -other than your creditors - that you may encounter in your Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

The case trustee

When it is time to file yourChapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy case, you will need to file your bankruptcy petition,forms, and other necessary documents with the bankruptcy clerk located in the proper federal courthouse. Once your case is filed, it will be assigned a case trustee, who is the administrator of thebankruptcy estate that is created when your petition is filed with the court. If you have filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, the bankruptcy court will assign a trustee to your case from a panel of trustees who preside over the administration of Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases in the district. It is the trustee’s job to ensure that you have complied with the requirements of the Bankruptcy Code, applied the correct exemptions, distribute the assets of  the bankruptcy estate, and to communicate with creditors or other parties regarding any issues that arise during the bankruptcy process. In the Chapter 13 context, your trustee will review and approve your repayment plan and essentially service the plan, collecting your payments before distributing them to your creditors under the terms of your confirmed plan. 

Bankruptcy Judges 

A bankruptcy judge will rarely, if ever, get involved in your bankruptcy case. A judge may be involved in deciding upon a fee waiver or installment plan application, deciding upon an objection to entry of the discharge in a bankruptcy case, or if an objection is raised by a creditor or some other party. It is namely the trustee who is responsible for the legal administration over the bankruptcy case. However, the judge will get involved when there are adversary proceedings, or to approve reaffirmation agreements or enter orders regarding other matters. 

Bankruptcy Attorneys 

Probably the most important to you is your representation, your bankruptcy attorney. Since bankruptcy is a matter of federal law and practiced in the federal courts, your attorney must be admitted to practice law in the federal courts. Most attorneys you will meet will have passed their state bar exam and are able to appear in state court. In addition to passing the bar, an attorney must be admitted to the federal bar to represent you in your bankruptcy case. 

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Upsolve is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that started in 2016. Our mission is to help low-income families who cannot afford lawyers file bankruptcy for free, using an online web app. Spun out of Harvard Law School, our team includes lawyers, engineers, and judges. We have world-class funders that include the U.S. government, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, and leading foundations. It's one of the greatest civil rights injustices of our time that low-income families can’t access their basic rights when they can’t afford to pay for help. Combining direct services and advocacy, we’re fighting this injustice.

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