When declaring bankruptcy it is required to have an official and impartial party that is either a licensed Insolvency Practitioner or an Official Receiver who will act as the administrator of your bankruptcy case. Whether a licenced Insolvency Practitioner will be appointed a Trustee is dependent upon the assets involved in the case, this usually depends on whether there will be important assets that are required to be realised, or if the actual process of realisation is likely to be complex.
The trustee has the role described in the previous paragraph; however the Official Receiver has the additional duties of being responsible the protection of your estate, as well as investigating any of your affairs.
The Trustee has several administrative and investigative powers that allow them to deal with your assets and bankruptcy effectively, a number of these powers rely on the Sanctioning by a Court, while others can be used freely without the need of any sanctions.
Here are a number of examples of what a Trustee is entitled to do:
- The Trustee may submit an application to the Court for the redirection of your mail.
- The Trustee can apply to the Court for any person believed to be in possession of your property to be summoned for a private examination.
- In dire cases, the Trustee may request that the Court issue a warrant for the person claiming bankruptcy and can also seize any and all of the property relating to the bankruptcy estate.
These are only but a few examples, but it is a clear demonstration of the power a Bankruptcy Trustee may have over you should you decide to claim and what the subsequent consequences will be.
The power and duties assigned to a Trustee originate from the primary and secondary legislation of Insolvency Law. They are also expected to follow the ethical guidelines as set by their licencing body. If you believe that the trustee is operating outside of these set guidelines, then you may submit a complaint to that licensing body. If you further disagree with a decision or an act made by the trustee, then you are permitted to apply to the court to have the decision changed.
By law, you are required to do so, but this does not mean you do not have any rights to defend yourself with. You have the right to challenge any decision made by the Trustee by applying to the Court. Whether you will actually succeed is dependent on the acts committed by the Trustee, and whether they have acted or have tried to avoid the laws or not. If you do not co-operate with the Trustee, then it is possible for your discharge from bankruptcy to be suspended, resulting in the Trustee being forced to exercise their investigative powers. If anything that was previously concealed was then found, for example, a property, investment or back account, then you might become victim to a bankruptcy offence, this crime is often punished by either a fire, imprisonment, or even both.
Whether you live in Sydney, Melbourne or elsewhere, a great place to find a local Trustee Agency near you is to look it up in AussieWeb.com.au, which hosts plenty of listings where you can find a Trustee you can trust.
Return to resources