I am Kimberly R. Lentz, Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Trustee for the Southern District of Mississippi, Southern Division, and this is how my desk looks on any given day:
I stay busy.
My role as a Chapter 7 Trustee is (1) to investigate the financial affairs of Chapter 7 debtors, (2) to obtain possession of and sell all of the debtors’ non-exempt properties, and (3) to distribute the proceeds to the debtors’ creditors.
The estate administration process is complex and time-consuming. I review the bankruptcy petitions and schedules filed with the Bankruptcy Court and the debtors’ tax returns, pay stubs and other information. I may also look at publicly available information to make sure all financial information has been fully disclosed. I preside at the §341(a) Meetings of Creditors where the debtors testify under oath about their schedules and financial affairs.
In most cases, there are no non-exempt assets to administer and I advise the Bankruptcy Court accordingly. However, if the equity value of a debtor’s property exceeds the available exemptions, I physically take possession of and sell the non-exempt property. All sales are consummated only after approval of the Bankruptcy Court.
In an asset case, after all non-exempt property has been sold, I file a Final Report containing a proposed distribution to creditors. When the Final Report is approved, I send checks to the creditors. Due to notice requirements inherent in the system, it often takes more than a year to fully administer and close an asset case. Complex cases may remain open for years.
This is a brief description of how I view my role as a Chapter 7 Trustee. The statutory duties of a Chapter 7 Trustee are fully set forth in Section 704 of the Bankruptcy Code. The American Bankruptcy Institute’s website contains an updated, searchable version of the full Bankruptcy Code.