In many Chapter 7 bankruptcies where the Trustee determines there are assets, the Trustee can collect administrative fees at the close of the bankruptcy case. You are probably first wondering what are administrative fees and what do they mean to me.
First, assets are basically just about everything you own (from money in any sort of financial account, to cash, to your home, to the furniture in your home, and etc.), but the Trustee cannot touch every asset. You are allowed to use certain and specific exemptions to protect all or some of your property. Some exemptions are limited to a dollar amount while others, such as retirement accounts, may be fully protected.
Assets or property that do not qualify for an exemption or are over the dollar amount allowed can be taken by the Trustee and used to pay your debts. However, in many situations, the Trustee may offer you a payment plan equal to the dollar amount of the asset not protected in exchange for you being able to keep the asset.
After reviewing your bankruptcy, determining if they are assets or not, collecting those assets and dispersing them, the Trustee can then charge administrative fees. The good news is that if you have no assets, the Trustee will not be able to collect any administrative fees from you. The other good news is that even if you have assets that the Trustee has collected, administrative fees are generally taken from the assets the Trustee has taken. Therefore, the administrative fees are generally not an additional out of pocket expense.
11 U.S. Code § 503 of the bankruptcy code outlines the administrative fees that may be collected as the following:
(a) An entity may timely file a request for payment of an administrative expense, or may tardily file such request if permitted by the court for cause.
(b) After notice and a hearing, there shall be allowed administrative expenses, other than claims allowed under section 502 (f) of this title, including—
(A) the actual, necessary costs and expenses of preserving the estate including—
(i) wages, salaries, and commissions for services rendered after the commencement of the case; and
(ii) wages and benefits awarded pursuant to a judicial proceeding or a proceeding of the National Labor Relations Board as back pay attributable to any period of time occurring after commencement of the case under this title, as a result of a violation of Federal or State law by the debtor, without regard to the time of the occurrence of unlawful conduct on which such award is based or to whether any services were rendered, if the court determines that payment of wages and benefits by reason of the operation of this clause will not substantially increase the probability of layoff or termination of current employees, or of nonpayment of domestic support obligations, during the case under this title;
(B) any tax—
(i) incurred by the estate, whether secured or unsecured, including property taxes for which liability is in rem, in personam, or both, except a tax of a kind specified in section 507 (a)(8) of this title; or
(ii) attributable to an excessive allowance of a tentative carryback adjustment that the estate received, whether the taxable year to which such adjustment relates ended before or after the commencement of the case;
(C) any fine, penalty, or reduction in credit relating to a tax of a kind specified in subparagraph (B) of this paragraph; and
(D) notwithstanding the requirements of subsection (a), a governmental unit shall not be required to file a request for the payment of an expense described in subparagraph (B) or (C), as a condition of its being an allowed administrative expense;
(2) compensation and reimbursement awarded under section 330 (a) of this title;
(3) the actual, necessary expenses, other than compensation and reimbursement specified in paragraph (4) of this subsection, incurred by—
(A) a creditor that files a petition under section 303 of this title;
(B) a creditor that recovers, after the court’s approval, for the benefit of the estate any property transferred or concealed by the debtor;
(C) a creditor in connection with the prosecution of a criminal offense relating to the case or to the business or property of the debtor;
(D) a creditor, an indenture trustee, an equity security holder, or a committee representing creditors or equity security holders other than a committee appointed under section 1102 of this title, in making a substantial contribution in a case under chapter 9 or 11 of this title;
(E) a custodian superseded under section 543 of this title, and compensation for the services of such custodian; or
(F) a member of a committee appointed under section 1102 of this title, if such expenses are incurred in the performance of the duties of such committee;
(4) reasonable compensation for professional services rendered by an attorney or an accountant of an entity whose expense is allowable under subparagraph (A), (B), (C), (D), or (E) of paragraph (3) of this subsection, based on the time, the nature, the extent, and the value of such services, and the cost of comparable services other than in a case under this title, and reimbursement for actual, necessary expenses incurred by such attorney or accountant;
(5) reasonable compensation for services rendered by an indenture trustee in making a substantial contribution in a case under chapter 9 or 11 of this title, based on the time, the nature, the extent, and the value of such services, and the cost of comparable services other than in a case under this title;
(6) the fees and mileage payable under chapter 119 of title 28;
(7) with respect to a nonresidential real property lease previously assumed under section 365, and subsequently rejected, a sum equal to all monetary obligations due, excluding those arising from or relating to a failure to operate or a penalty provision, for the period of 2 years following the later of the rejection date or the date of actual turnover of the premises, without reduction or setoff for any reason whatsoever except for sums actually received or to be received from an entity other than the debtor, and the claim for remaining sums due for the balance of the term of the lease shall be a claim under section 502 (b)(6);
(8) the actual, necessary costs and expenses of closing a health care business incurred by a trustee or by a Federal agency (as defined in section 551 (1) of title 5) or a department or agency of a State or political subdivision thereof, including any cost or expense incurred—
(A) in disposing of patient records in accordance with section 351; or
(B) in connection with transferring patients from the health care business that is in the process of being closed to another health care business; and
(9) the value of any goods received by the debtor within 20 days before the date of commencement of a case under this title in which the goods have been sold to the debtor in the ordinary course of such debtor’s business.