Is the Panel or US Trustee Most Like the Wizard of Oz?


Filing for bankruptcy protection has to be a scary prospect for first time filers not familiar with the process. The panel trustee and US Trustee can appear to be scary figures, especially when you don’t get to see them in person. This fact inspired a debtor to recently blog on a bankruptcy forum website comparing the trustee to the Wizard of Oz, the fictional character inspired by the novel written by Frank L. Baum. The cute blog inspired me to wonder which one of the trustees would be most like the Wizard of Oz in original movie.

The Wizard of Oz as pictured in The Wonderful ...

The Wizard of Oz as pictured by L. Frank Baum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here are the exact words posted by the blogger: “Do you ever feel like this.. That your trustee is like the ‘great wizard’, “the man behind the curtain” from the Wizard of Oz LOL!? I have never personally met or talked to our trustee because she had a fill-in the day of the [341]meeting, but I’m always on edge waiting to hear what she has to say via our attorney, and a bit frightened at all time when she’s involved! She hasn’t been unfair or anything like that, and after all she is just a person doing her ‘job’, but dang just something about her title that makes me feel like she has superpowers or something. LOL! Can anyone relate?”

If you will remember from the movie, The Wizard of Oz, a little man veiled behind a curtain, portrayed himself as a great and powerful wizard. He used the veil to try and intimidate those that came before him with the perception he had awesome power. The first time Dorothy and her troupe came before the great and powerful wizard, they were frightened because of all his blustering. His reputation preceded their appearance and added to the mystic of his true nature and power. They responded accordingly. When the veil hiding the wizard accidentally dropped revealing the man of small stature who was using electronic devices to portray himself as something he was not, the truth about the wizard soon became apparent to all. As the story unfolds, the wizard turns out to be a normal human being trying to do what he thought his job was at the time. In reality, he was a good person wanting to get back home just like Dorothy.

I can see where some debtors who never get a chance to personally meet and see their trustee can be in awe and afraid of the person that has been placed in the position to change the perceptions they have about life. Fortunately, most debtors get to personally meet the panel trustee at the 341 meeting. Their preconceived notions may make them anxious about what will take place at the meeting, but most all learn that the panel trustee is just another human like any other trying to do a job.

The trustee who might appear to be most like the frightful wizard of Oz to a debtor should be the US Trustee. Most of the time, a debtor never gets to personally meet this trustee unless there is a matter brought before the bankruptcy judge in the bankruptcy court. In effect, the US Trustee is the human behind the veil pulling all the strings to make sure the bankruptcy case goes according the bankruptcy law.

Nevertheless, he is no wizard of Oz. The US Trustee is just another human trying to do their job. If you are fearful of a US Trustee, it is only because of the reputation that precedes him or her. You normally won’t hear from a US Trustee unless things have gone awry or the case is closed.

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