A look at the official receiver and/or trustee - those that oversee the bankruptcy process.
Such people are not there to judge or test you, but are there in an administrative role and their aim is to help you through the bankruptcy process.
Official Receivers & Trustees: who are they?
A bankruptcy trustee is someone who looks after your bankruptcy, from beginning to end. Their primary duty therefore is to assess and take over control of your assets, with the view of raising capital from asset sales in order to pay off at least partially a bankrupt’s creditors. The trustee is either the official receiver administering the bankruptcy or an insolvency practitioner. Note that the trustee and the official receiver can be two separate people.
A bankruptcy trustee is given certain powers to investigate the finances and assets of the bankrupt person. The trustee can also apply to the court for further powers, such as the redirecting of mail or the summoning of anyone believed to be in possession of the property of the bankrupt individual.
Anyone acting as bankruptcy trustee must comply with certain statutory requirements, as well as follow best practice and ethical guidance.
The Bankruptcy Trustee's Role
The trustee's role in your bankruptcy includes the following: taking control of some of your personal property, where applicable, assessing whether you can afford to make any payments towards your debts, and if so, how much. In addition, the trustee or official receiver will investigate your conduct and your financial affairs before and during the bankruptcy term, which could include you attending an interview to go over your debts. Alternatively, you may have to complete a questionnaire. The trustee will advertise your bankruptcy in the London Gazette, inform your creditors of bankruptcy proceedings, which may include a meeting of creditors with you in attendance, and will inform you of what they expect of you during the whole procedure, leading up to discharge and beyond.
The Bankruptcy UK Process
The trustee will then be informed by the bankruptcy court about the order, usually the same day. As mentioned you will usually be required to do some/all of the following:
Questionnaire – the official receiver or insolvency practitioner may send you a questionnaire for you to list your financial situation in full. You will need to collate all your records and return the form within the timescale agreed.
Interview – if an interview is the next method of collating your financial information, then an appointment will be made with the official receiver. This must be within 10 days of the bankruptcy order being made, though if it is a relatively simple case the interview can be done over the phone. During the interview, the official receiver will check the information in your questionnaire, if you were asked to complete one, ask for any additional information relevant to the case, deal with any queries you may have and ask about how the bankruptcy was caused. The interview could last anywhere from 30 minutes to three hours.
You may be asked to attend another appointment, particularly if the examiner needs more time to complete enquiries into your affairs, or if you cannot, or do not, provide all the financial records requested by the official receiver, if the examiner needs more details of your assets, debts and financial affairs, if you cannot provide all the information the official receiver needs, or if you do not arrive for any appointment.
Public examination – the trustee can require you to appear at a public examination if at least half of your creditors request this. Such an examination requires you to make an oath in open court regarding the details of your financial situation. Failure to attend could result in arrest and a possible fine.
Creditors' meeting – the official receiver may request a meeting of creditors, and if so, you will be required to attend. At this meeting, the creditors may decide to appoint an insolvency practitioner as the trustee of your bankruptcy, who would be responsible for raising cash from your property (if relevant) and other assets.
Changes Of Circumstances
It is imperative that any change of financial circumstances is notified to the official receiver. This could include lottery winnings, other winnings, an inheritance or perhaps a personal injury award. The official receiver will take some or all of these gains to help pay off debts to creditors.
If you don't co-operate with the official receiver
This is not something to be recommended. Failure to co-operate can have serious ramifications. You must co-operate fully with the official receiver, as well as the bankruptcy trustee, if this is a different person. If you don't, they can apply to the court for any or all of the following: an order for you to attend a public examination, an arrest warrant if you failed to attend the examination, a mail redirection order, a bankruptcy restrictions order, which would result in your date of discharge being extended, and you could also be prosecuted for failing to co-operate or for other offences.