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R. Flay Cabiness, II, P.C. Georgia Lawyer Blog

Your Bankruptcy Trustee is Not Your Friend

When you file for bankruptcy the court assigns a trustee to your case. This is the person responsible for making sure your creditors get what you owe them. He or she is knowledgeable about the bankruptcy process and can get things completed efficiently, but as much as a trustee might seem supportive or like a guide through bankruptcy, he or she is not on your side.

What’s the most important thing you should understand about a bankruptcy trustee? His or her primary job is to take as much of your money as possible and give it to your creditors.

As a matter of fact, the trustee even gets to keep some of the money taken from you as payment for doing their job. This is one of the main reasons trustees prefer people file for bankruptcy without hiring an attorney – it makes their job easier and ensures they get as much money as possible.

What Does a Bankruptcy Trustee Do?

Trustees are responsible for liquidating assets in a bankruptcy that have not been exempted during the filing process. Once assets are liquidated, they assign priority to creditors and then distribute the proceeds based on priority. Some creditors get all that is due to them, some get a portion, and some get nothing.

A trustee’s number one responsibility in a bankruptcy case is to locate, liquidate, and distribute funds from assets. This is why it is so important to exempt as many assets as possible. Exempting an asset protects it from the trustee and eliminates the chance it will be liquidated.

For more information on what assets are eligible for exemption and how the process works, check out this article from NOLO.com.

An Attorney Can Help You with Exemptions

One of the most important aspects of your bankruptcy is exempting the assets you wish to protect. Unfortunately, when someone files for bankruptcy without the assistance of an attorney, this is the process that is most frequently riddled with mistakes. Many people have attempted to file for bankruptcy thinking they were protecting their home or retirement savings, only to realize the trustee is able to take these things and sell them for money to pay creditors.

The other important thing to realize is that exempting an asset is about more than just stating you want it exempted. There have been cases where a filer thought his or her home was protected, but because the value was listed incorrectly, the trustee was able to use the system to sell the home.

The bottom line is there are too many things that can happen and too much power given to the bankruptcy trustee to assume you can go it alone when filing for bankruptcy. The only way to guarantee what you want protected is protected is to work with an experienced bankruptcy attorney. This person will help you use all of the available exemptions and avoid the tricks used by trustees to confiscate your assets.

No matter how friendly or helpful a trustee might seem, he or she is not your friend. The person has a job to do and will do everything possible to achieve his or her assigned goals. You need an attorney working for you and supporting you through the bankruptcy process – it’s the only way you can be sure you won’t be taken advantage of or you won’t miss something important when you file.

If you would like to discuss your options or you are concerned about the access a trustee has to your assets, contact R. Flay Cabiness, II, P.C. at (912) 554-3774 (Brunswick, GA); (912) 375-5620 (Hazlehurst, GA) or; (912)-554-3756 (Jesup, GA).

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Jesup, GA  31545
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