§ 53.19 — Trustees’ Role in Debtor Education
Revised: July 3, 2007
BAPCPA takes aim at educating Chapter 13 debtors in several ways. There are many new notices, statements and writings that Debt Relief Agencies are required to give Chapter 13 debtors addressing various bankruptcy and debt issues.1 There are multiple copies of the § 342(b) notice flung at every debtor from several directions.2 There is the new prebankruptcy “briefing” required as a condition for eligibility of every Chapter 13 debtor in new § 109(h).3 And there is the new requirement that every Chapter 13 debtor complete an instructional course concerning personal financial management as a prerequisite for discharge.4 In new § 111, BAPCPA describes in much detail the nonprofit budget and credit counseling agencies that are approved by the U.S. trustee to provide the prebankruptcy briefing.5
In all of this discussion of debtor education by BAPCPA, there is no mention of the Chapter 13 trustee. Perhaps this omission was intentional, but it certainly belies a fact known to anyone familiar with bankruptcy practice: standing Chapter 13 trustees are the principal source of financial and debt management education in the bankruptcy system. Many Chapter 13 trustees across the country have developed and provided debtor education courses to Chapter 13 debtors (and others) for decades. The National Association of Chapter 13 Trustees parented a Trustee Education Network (TEN) that provides teacher training, course plans and instructional materials for financial management and debtor education courses. Hundreds of thousands of Chapter 13 debtors completed instructional courses during their cases before the mandate in BAPCPA.
That BAPCPA makes no mention or use of the robust network of financial education information and experience available from the Chapter 13 trustees reflects the drafters’ lack of knowledge and understanding of the existing Chapter 13 system. It can only be hoped that the U.S. trustee will capture and use some of the vast experience the Chapter 13 trustees have with debtor education as the U.S. trustee reviews and approves debtor educators and courses under § 111. It is a shame that BAPCPA didn’t recognize the enormous potential of these resources and define a role in the debtor education process for the Chapter 13 trustees.
1 See 11 U.S.C. §§ 526, 527 and 528, discussed in § 366.1 [ WARNING! You Are a Debt Relief Agency ] § 4.1 WARNING! You Are a Debt Relief Agency.
2 See §§ 366.1 [ WARNING! You Are a Debt Relief Agency ] § 4.1 WARNING! You Are a Debt Relief Agency and 375.1 [ Certificate of § 342(b) Notice ] § 36.33 Certificate of § 342(b) Notice after BAPCPA.
3 See 11 U.S.C. § 109(h), discussed beginning at § 18.1 In General.
4 See 11 U.S.C. § 1328(g), discussed in § 546.1 [ Instructional Course Requirement ] § 156.5 Instructional Course Requirement.
5 See 11 U.S.C. § 111.