Every Chapter 7 bankruptcy case has a trustee. In Chapter 7 cases in Alabama, the Chapter 7 trustee is an attorney who serves on a panel. Each member of the panel is assigned cases on a rotational basis. Some divisions rotate trustees on a weekly basis while others rotate based on the number of cases assigned.
It is the job of the Chapter 7 trustee to represent the interests of the unsecured creditors. The Chapter 7 trustee does not represent you. You have an attorney to represent your interests. It is your job as a debtor to provide the trustee with honest and complete answers to his or her questions. You may also be asked to supply documents to the Chapter 7 trustee. Many people are very nervous about appearing before the trustee. I tell my clients that they should relax and keep the following in mind when preparing for their meeting:
- Trustees will not harass you nor will they allow anyone else to do so.
- The trustee is not the judge. You will probably never meet the judge in a Chapter 7 case.
- Creditors rarely appear at your meeting with the trustee. This meeting is called the 341 meeting or the first meeting of creditors.
- Your nerves will not have time to settle before the trustee is telling you “Thank You, and Good Luck.” You will then look at me like a deer dazed by headlights asking “What do I do now?” The answer to that question is usually “Nothing, you are done and all we have to do now is to wait for your discharge date.”
- You may have to wait an hour or more for your case to be called but the time you will actually sit before the trustee will be measured in minutes. In most cases, you will be before the trustee for 2 to 3 minutes.
- You do not need to bring anything with you to the meeting unless I have previously told you to bring documents.
- The trustee will not ask you anything that I have not already talked to you about. In fact, I will tell you the questions the trustee usually asks.
- I will be with you when you go to your meeting of creditors. I will make sure that your interests are protected. I will get you through this difficult time.
- I have never had a client who, after the meeting of creditors, did not look at me with this “You mean that's it look.” In fact, most people ask me that very question.
- You will feel like the weight of the world is off your shoulders when you leave your meeting.