The bankruptcy trustee’s job is basically to represent your creditors best interests. Just like our job is represent you and to look after your best interests, the trustee will be looking out for the best interests of your creditors.
The trustee is not the judge. The trustee has a very important position and has the power to ask the judge for permission to do a myriad of things such as dismiss your case, object to your pleadings and request that you turn over property or money, yet the trustee is not the judge. Primarily the trustee will be examining your pleadings, property and assets to confirm that you indeed do not have any property and/or funds that should be turned over to the trustee and distributed evenly among your creditors.
When you attend your Meeting of Creditors, also referred to as a 341 Hearing or Bankruptcy Hearing, the trustee will be there to ask you questions about your finances and basically get your sworn statement that everything you listed in your pleadings is true and accurate. We will be there to represent you. A group of other debtors will be there with their attorneys. The bankruptcy trustee’s assistant will be there. The judge will not be there. Because of this scenario, clients often confuse trustees for judges, although they’re not.
The trustee represents the creditors, we represent you and the judge oversees the process and rules on motions and other matters that are brought before the Court. It is the judge, not the trustee, who will sign your Discharge Order that frees you from all of your dischargeable debt.
Although the trustee does not possess any judicial powers, it is still very important to respect the trustee as you would any official of the Court. The Court appoints trustees because they have displayed exemplary professionalism and knowledge in the field and as such should be treated accordingly.