Debtors in Chapter 7 bankruptcy are typically in a hurry to complete their bankruptcy case and move on with their lives. For most debtors a bankruptcy case is essentially over once the discharge order is signed. However, in asset cases where there is nonexempt property that must be liquidated so that the creditors can be paid, the case can continue for years after the discharge order is signed. In most cases the debtors and their attorney don’t have much to do while the trustee is administering the bankruptcy estate, so they may not even realize that their case is still open and active.
Debtors file Chapter 7 bankruptcy to discharge debt. By filing a bankruptcy petition, they agree that they will turn over their non-exempt property to a trustee so that it can be liquidated and the proceeds paid to the creditors listed in the schedules. In return, many of the debtor’s financial obligations are eliminated, meaning that they are no longer liable for the debts discharged in the bankruptcy case.
Chapter 7 trustees often need cooperation from debtors in order to do their job. Trustees may request information about nonexempt property, such as pictures of the property and the location where the property is stored. Failure to cooperate with a trustee can have dire consequences. Trustees may ask the bankruptcy court to revoke the debtor’s discharge. This means that the debtor will likely lose their nonexempt property and still owe their creditors after the bankruptcy case is closed.
For the most part, it is very simple to cooperate with the Chapter 7 Trustee. When a trustee requests additional documentation or information, provide it to them as quickly as reasonably possible. If the trustee asks to inspect nonexempt property or to have it appraised, make the property available for inspection. Doing so will help the trustee do their job and allow the bankruptcy case to be closed as soon as possible.