The office of the United States Trustee is a component of the United States Department of Justice tasked with overseeing the administration of bankruptcy cases and private trustees.
A United States Trustee is appointed for each of twenty-one geographical regions for a five-year term by the U.S. Attorney General.
The office maintains and supervises a panel of private trustees for Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases.
Each of the twenty-one regional U.S. Trustees has an office in each judicial district within the trustee’s region, with the exception of Alabama and North Carolina.
Although the office does not have prosecution powers, the U.S. Trustee is required by law to forward information regarding potential criminal violations of bankruptcy laws to the United States Attorney.
In Chapter 7 cases, interim trustees may be appointed by the U.S. Trustee. They are then randomly assigned to cases and automatically appointed as the “permanent” case trustee after the first meeting of creditors.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases are usually overseen by Standing Trustees in their judicial districts.
The U.S. Trustee’s office conducts the first meeting of creditors in a Chapter 11 case. Most of Chapter 11 cases do not require the appointment of a trustee.
The office may also take over a case if, for any reason, all standing trustees are disqualified or unable to perform.
The U.S. Trustee, together with the creditors committees, acts as the primary “watchdog” to ensure compliance with the bankruptcy code.
The U.S. Trustee’s office also reviews all debtor filings, and monitor trustee and attorney fees in all bankruptcy cases.