When a Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceeding is filed through the United States bankruptcy court, the court assigns a trustee to the case. The trustee provides management of bankruptcy funds, including distributing funds to creditors and managing some aspects of asset liquidation that might be associated with the bankruptcy.
According to the United States Department of Justice, trustees are assigned to cases on a blind rotation system to provide an equitable and fair assignment. Some exceptions to the blind assignment system do exist, however. If a trustee previously served in a bankruptcy case that has been reopened, he or she might not be assigned to that case again.
Other reasons the bankruptcy court might alter a blind rotational assignment include geographic considerations for the trustee, remedial action against a trustee, or the fact that some unique case characteristic makes an individual trustee particularly unsuited to work with a case. These special cases are usually relatively rare.
Sometimes, when a trustee is working with a Chapter 11 bankruptcy case and it is converted by the court to a Chapter 7 filing, the court will make a trustee change. Other times, the court keeps the current trustee in place for the rest of the proceeding. The court always documents when it makes an exception to the rotational, blind assignment of trustees; individuals who are dealing with a bankruptcy case and have concerns about the equitable nature of any trustee assignment can ask for this information.
Understanding who your trustee is and how to work with them through the bankruptcy process is only one step in a many-step procedure. The trustee must follow the law, but they are a third-party and not on any one “side.” Having a legal professional on your side can help ensure your bankruptcy is as fluid and fair as possible.