What Is The U.S. Trustee?
When we talk about bankruptcy, we usually talk about the trustee in your case. The trustee is the government official that is charged with acting as a representative of your creditors. Practically, you may have a lot of creditors. They can’t all review your paperwork, ask you questions, investigate your assets, sell property, distribute it or generally act as your opposition in the case.
So, the law appoints one person to be a administer your estate. This is the trustee. You’ve probably read about what the trustee in your case will do, will not do, or what the trustee has the power to do.
What About the U.S. trustee?
But what is the U.S. trustee?
The federal government runs the bankruptcy trustee program from the U.S. Department of Justice. (DOJ). The DOJ is charged with monitoring all the trustees, and to some extent, with oversight of all cases.
When Does the U.S. Trustee Get Involved?
Most people who file bankruptcy will only deal with their local trustee—they will never speak to, or interact with the U.S. Trustee’s office. But there are some situations where something could be filed in a bankruptcy case that could raise the attention of the U.S. trustee’s office. These usually include situations where a filer is lying, committing perjury, or otherwise doing something to try to defraud creditors or the local trustee.
Sometimes, something on your paperwork could raise the attention of the U.S. trustee’s office—for example, if you had significantly high debts and very low income, or if you charged up a lot of money right before filing bankruptcy. Sometimes, having too much debt will arouse the suspicion of the U.S. trustee, even though in a Chapter 7, there is technically no limit to how much debt you can discharge.
The DOJ, through the U.S. Trustee’s office, also conducts random audits of cases. So, it is possible that the DOJ could be involved in your case, even though you did nothing wrong at all. For most people, this is a pain and a hassle, but won’t result in anything of consequence, so long as you were truthful with the information provided in your bankruptcy paperwork.