If you have financial problems and have thought about consulting a trustee in bankruptcy, you may be curious about the role that they play in helping you deal with your financial problems, and may be asking yourself “what does a trustee do anyway?”
The first thing to know is that a trustee in bankruptcy does not represent you. You may have seen advertisements by trustees that make it seem as though they want to help you. What does a trustee do? Well, they are a court appointed officer that administers bankruptcies and consumer proposals. They have an obligation to act in the best interest of both you and your creditors.
Let’s look at a bankruptcy as an example. When you visit a trustee to file for bankruptcy they review all of your household income, debt and other financial details and then advise you on what your monthly payment in bankruptcy will be. You make your monthly payment to the trustee in bankruptcy each month. If you have assets or surplus income for example, what does the trustee do? They will ensure that they collect equity in those assets or surplus income for the benefit of your creditors. They are not there to protect your income and assets, they are simply administrators of the bankruptcy process. If they can collect more money through your estate for your creditors, they will.
Consumer proposals are also administered by trustees in bankruptcy. When you visit a bankruptcy trustee directly to discuss a consumer proposal, they will assess your income, debt, assets and other personal household and financial information. What does a trustee do next? They will suggest an amount of a consumer proposal that they believe will be accepted by your creditors. This does not always result in the best deal for you, and if you visit a trustee directly you will have little to no negotiating power because they are simply administering your consumer proposal, so what they present to you is what they will be prepared to go forward with. They are not there to get you the best deal.
Do you do your taxes without the help of an accountant? Not likely. If you were charged with a crime would you defend yourself without a lawyer? Probably not. Dealing with a trustee in bankruptcy is no different; you should not do so unrepresented.
Having independent financial representation when considering a consumer proposal or bankruptcy is crucial because it enables you to have your personal and financial information reviewed by a professional who represents and is hired by you and who understands bankruptcies and consumer proposals. They can vet your personal and financial information, identify any issues before a trustee is made aware of them, and help you come up with a proposal to present to the trustee that you can live with.
Do not answer the question “what does a trustee do” the hard way. Filing a bankruptcy or consumer proposal is an official process. Once you have committed to either one of these processes there is no turning back, so it is important to do everything in your power to ensure that you enter into the process with all of the necessary information. The more informed you are, the better financial arrangements you will be able to make, which will save you thousands.
If you have more questions about this article “What does a trustee do?” or if you need representation in a consumer proposal or a bankruptcy please visit www.debtcare.ca or call 416-907-2582.