As a licensed insolvency trustee, I am a one of just over 1,000 trustees in all of Canada. A trustee has a unique role. We are like a referee in the bankruptcy process. We sit down with people who are experiencing financial hardship and assess their situation as well as review the options to deal with their debts. Then, if someone needs the protection and relief from their creditors, we administer the bankruptcy process.
We are not lawyers, but rather licensed by the government. We are all required by law to uphold a minimum standard and we report to and are monitored by the government. So how are the trustees at our firm different?
At Hoyes Michalos and Associates Inc. we think that people make the difference. In our Kitchener Waterloo bankruptcy office, my associate Ian Martin or myself meet with every individual. Ian and I are both Chartered Accountants. We personally work with everyone who sees us in the Kitchener Waterloo to make the process is fully explained and understood.
I was sitting in the Kitchener Bankruptcy Court last week where I noted some major differences between trustee firms. There were 65 individuals being seen by the court for their discharge hearing that day. Not all personal bankruptcies have to appear before the court, only certain cases go to court to get their discharge. I was there to report to the court as the trustee on 5 individual bankruptcies. There was only one other trustee firm represented at the court, even though there were individuals at the court for at least 10 other trustee firms. How does court work? The judge deals first with clients whose trustee is present. Therefore, the individuals there from Hoyes Michalos were dealt with first and out of the court within minutes. After that it got interesting. I decided to stay in court until all cases were heard. I sat in the court room watching what happened for the individuals whose trustee chose not to appear at court. Each case was heard one by one, with just the individual sitting before the court and having to speak alone – without the support of their trustee. There were some cases where there appears to be some miscommunication between the trustee and the individual and the trustee was not there to sort it out. This left the individual confused and not sure of what had just happened. For most people, they have never been in a court house. Now if their bankruptcy has to go to court, they are left to go it alone. At Hoyes, Michalos and Associates Inc. we will appear at all discharge hearings because we see it as part of our role as trustees.
Further, it is imperative that everyone understands want the process is so that there is no confusion. This is one major difference between us and the other trustee firms in the area. For a free assessment of your situation, call me at 519-747-0660 or send me an e-mail.