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When an individual files for personal bankruptcy, a trustee is appointed to manage the case. In short, a bankruptcy trustee is tasked with a number of important duties which are ultimately determined by whether the bankruptcy is a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 filing.

In a Chapter 7 filing, for example, the trustee will first review the bankruptcy petition to determine whether all the required documents have been submitted and that the information is accurate. If not, the trustee will instruct the person to submit an amended petition. Next, the trustee will schedule a 341 Hearing, which is also referred to as a meeting of creditors.

This meeting is held at a room in the courthouse and is conducted by the trustee. The filer is  asked a series of questions under oath in order to verify the information in the petition and to determine which assets should be discharged. Even though this is a meeting of creditors, however, most normally do not attend. Finally, the trustee will assess and liquidate any nonexempt assets to pay off outstanding debt.

In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the trustee also reviews the petition and financial information. Since this is a reorganization bankruptcy, however, it is necessary for the filer to submit a payment plan based on his or her income, expenses and debt. The trustee will determine whether he or she be able to stick to the plan and that the creditors will be satisfied.

About a month after the filing, the trustee will hold a 341 hearing during which the filer will testify under oath that the submitted information is accurate. Additionally, the creditors must file proofs of claim for the trustee to review and approve. Then, the trustee will finalize the repayment plan and begin paying the creditors from the monthly payment provided by the filer.

It is important to note that the trustee does not represent the filer, but rather acts as an objective third party to ensure that the debts are resolved equitably. Nonetheless, filing for bankruptcy is a difficult and complicated process, which makes it crucial to have proper legal representation. For this reason, if you are considering bankruptcy, it is essential to consult with an experienced bankruptcy attorney who can best protect your interests.