§ 53.2     Who Will Be the Trustee?
Cite as:    Keith M. Lundin, Lundin On Chapter 13, § 53.2, at ¶ ____, LundinOnChapter13.com (last visited __________).

In most judicial districts, the U.S. trustee appoints an individual to serve as standing trustee in all Chapter 13 cases.1 The standing trustee is automatically appointed as trustee in every Chapter 13 case. The same trustee serves in nonbusiness and business cases. The Chapter 13 trustee is appointed, never elected2 and the statute mandates that the standing trustee shall serve in each Chapter 13 case in the district.3


In some judicial districts, the size of the Chapter 13 program requires more than one standing trustee.4 The Executive Office of the United States Trustee has guidelines concerning the maximum size of a Chapter 13 program at which additional standing trustees should be appointed. In multi-trustee districts, each standing trustee is assigned responsibility for specific Chapter 13 cases. In some multi-trustee districts, the standing trustees share space and computer facilities and generally use the same operating procedures. In other multi-trustee districts, the standing trustees are physically spread around the district and sometimes use different computers, different software, different forms and different procedures in and out of court. It is difficult for debtors and creditors to maneuver through a multi-trustee district when the trustees have chosen not to use similar forms and procedures. The standardization of practice in multi-trustee districts is desirable. The U.S. trustee system could be a force toward standardization of practice and procedure in Chapter 13 cases within and across judicial districts.


If the number of Chapter 13 cases does not warrant appointment of a standing trustee, then the U.S. trustee appoints one “disinterested person to serve as trustee in the case,” or the U.S. trustee may serve as trustee in the case.5 Curiously, “person” includes “individual, partnership and corporation.”6 In districts with small Chapter 13 programs, the U.S. trustee could appoint a corporation or a partnership to serve as trustee. If you hear of a corporate Chapter 13 trustee, please let me know.


To qualify for appointment as a Chapter 13 trustee, an individual must meet the requirements in 11 U.S.C. § 3217 and the qualifications found at 28 C.F.R. §§ 58.3 and 58.4.


1  11 U.S.C. § 1302(a); 28 U.S.C. § 586(b). The principal exceptions are the judicial districts for Alabama and North Carolina.


2  See In re Alpine Lumber & Nursery, 13 B.R. 977 (Bankr. S.D. Cal. 1981).


3  See In re Saberman, 3 B.R. 316 (Bankr. N.D. Ill. 1980).


4  Technically, there is no Code provision for the appointment of an “assistant” standing Chapter 13 trustee. 28 U.S.C. § 586(b) contemplates that there may be “one or more individuals to serve as standing trustee.”


5  11 U.S.C. § 1302(a) (emphasis added).


6  11 U.S.C. § 101(41).


7  11 U.S.C. § 321(a) provides:

A person may serve as trustee in a case under this title only if such person is—
(1) an individual that is competent to perform the duties of trustee and, in a case under chapter 7, 12, or 13 of this title, resides or has an office in the judicial district within which the case is pending, or in any judicial district adjacent to such district; or
(2) a corporation authorized by such corporation’s charter or bylaws to act as trustee, and, in a case under chapter 7, 12, or 13 of this title, having an office in at least one of such districts.