When you file for a chapter 7 bankruptcy, you will be working with a bankruptcy trustee. This person will have a great deal of leverage in your case, so it helps to understand what his or her role is.
Your trustee will monitor your case, recover property from your estate and distribute assets to creditors. This individual is not a lawyer and cannot represent you in any way, but he or she is not your enemy either.
How your trustee can help you
Your trustee can guide you through the process of filing for a chapter 7 bankruptcy and help you gather the necessary documentation before submitting your case. This includes filling out forms assuming responsibility for debts, arranging schedules of liabilities and preparing the statements of financial affairs form. If possible, your trustee will try to cut your personal expenses by focusing on certain debts first before discharging others.
How your trustee can hurt you
While your trustee is there to help, you must live up to your end of the bargain. You will have to attend a meeting of creditors, where your trustee and creditors will ask you about your assets. If you lie or fail to show up to the meeting, your trustee will report this to the court. Not only can the court dismiss your case, but it may hold you in contempt.
You can look at a bankruptcy trustee as an impartial mediator between you, your creditors and the legal system. The more honest and cooperative you are, the more the person can do for you.