How Do Bankruptcy Trustees Get Paid?

Learn about compensation for Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy trustees.

By , Attorney · University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law

The bankruptcy laws determine how bankruptcy trustees get paid for overseeing a bankruptcy case. In this article, you'll learn how a bankruptcy trustee's compensation differs depending on whether you're in Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Learn more about trustee duties, powers, and the bankruptcy trustee.

How a Chapter 7 Trustee Gets Paid

In a Chapter 7 case, the trustee has two potential income sources.

  • $60 administration fee. The trustee receives a $60 administrative fee from the bankruptcy filing fees you pay to the court clerk when you file the case. Eligible Chapter 7 trustees can receive up to $60 more per case when funds are available (additional funds weren't available in 2022).
  • Percentage of the bankruptcy assets. The other source of income for a Chapter 7 trustee is a commission on bankruptcy assets distributed to creditors. The trustee receives no further fees if there are no assets in the case (including tax refunds, lawsuits, or other actions). The commission comes from the money collected from the sale of nonexempt assets (property that isn't protected from sale by a bankruptcy exemption) or the recoveries on lawsuits brought by the trustee.

The trustee receives no administrative fee if the court waives the filing fee because the filer's income meets fee waiver guidelines.

How Much a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Trustee Gets Paid

In addition to the standard $60 fee, the trustee also receives a commission on the money collected if the trustee sells assets and makes payments to creditors. You don't pay the Chapter 7 trustee's commissions. It's deducted from the sales proceeds.

The Trustee's Commission: A Sliding Scale

The amount of the trustee's commission depends on the funds disbursed to interested parties (professionals and creditors). The sliding scale is as follows:

  • 25% of the first $5,000 disbursed
  • 10% of the next $45,000
  • 5% of the next $950,000, and
  • 3% of anything over $1,000,000.

The trustee must apply for compensation with the bankruptcy court to receive payment. All creditors and interested parties receive notice of the amounts requested. The court holds a hearing on any objections filed, reviews the trustee's fee application, and awards a reasonable fee.

Bankruptcy trustees usually receive the maximum allowed. However, the bankruptcy court might award a lesser fee if the commission is large and required little work or if the trustee's office unreasonably delayed the estate administration.

The Trustee Gets Paid for Sales Costs

The Chapter 7 trustee can also recover costs for expenses, such as professional accounting fees. Again, the trustee files a fee application with the bankruptcy court requesting reimbursement costs.

How Much a Chapter 13 Trustee Gets Paid

Most Chapter 13 trustees are "standing trustees," meaning that serving as a Chapter 13 trustee comprises all or a large part of their business. With few exceptions, all Chapter 13 cases filed in the district are assigned to these standing trustees.

The compensation to standing trustees is part of the plan payment you make every month under Chapter 13. The compensation varies by trustee, and although the trustee doesn't need to obtain a court order before receiving payment, oversight for the fee exists.

Maximum Percentage Trustees Get Paid

Under bankruptcy law, 10% is the maximum plan percentage a Chapter 13 trustee can be compensated. The trustee must use these fees for costs incurred in the case and for running the trustee's office.

How Budget Approval Affects Trustee Payment

The yearly salary of the Chapter 13 trustee is limited by law, and the trustee must file operating budgets with the Office of the United States Trustee for compliance review. These budgets include the costs of operating the trustee's office, and employee salaries, including professional salaries for attorneys and accountants. Once a budget is approved, the trustee can collect up to 10% from the plan payments.

Need More Bankruptcy Help?

Did you know Nolo has made the law easy for over fifty years? It's true—and we want to ensure you find what you need. Below you'll find more articles explaining how bankruptcy works. And don't forget that our bankruptcy homepage is the best place to start if you have other questions!

Our Editor's Picks for You

More Like This

What Is a Bankruptcy Audit?

Preparing for Bankruptcy: What to Do With Bank Accounts, Automatic Payments, and Utility Deposits

Motor Vehicle Exemption: Can You Keep Your Car in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

Which Bankruptcy Chapter Should I File If I Want to Keep My House?

Consider Before Filing Bankruptcy

How Bankruptcy Exemptions Protect Your Property

How to File for Bankruptcy in Your State

Helpful Bankruptcy Sites

Department of Justice U.S. Trustee Program

United States Courts Bankruptcy Forms

We wholeheartedly encourage research and learning, but online articles can't address all bankruptcy issues or the facts of your case. The best way to protect your assets in bankruptcy is by hiring a local bankruptcy lawyer.

Updated March 24, 2023

Get Professional Help
Get debt relief now.
We've helped 205 clients find attorneys today.
There was a problem with the submission. Please refresh the page and try again
Full Name is required
Email is required
Please enter a valid Email
Phone Number is required
Please enter a valid Phone Number
Zip Code is required
Please add a valid Zip Code
Please enter a valid Case Description
Description is required

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you