Getting a fresh start through bankruptcy is a great opportunity. In order to ensure that all possible relief is obtained in a bankruptcy case, it is important that a debtor meet certain requirements. Debtors are required to wait years between discharges and most debtors do not want to file for bankruptcy more than once. As important as your choice of a bankruptcy attorney is the debtor’s cooperation with their attorney and their process. Debtors should be prepared to cooperate with their attorneys and the Court. The more a client assist us with their case, the better job we can do on their behalf.
Debtors who want to file bankruptcy must be completely honest with their attorneys and with the parties involved in the bankruptcy system. Because the system is based upon honesty and full disclosure, those who work regularly within the system take lies and non-disclosure personally (including us). Failing to be completely honest during the process can jeopardize your rights to bankruptcy relief , makes your attorneys job must harder and could even subject you to the possibility of jail time. While it may be time consuming, it is worth the time it takes to thoroughly review all relevant paperwork and ensure that the documents filed with the Court are as correct as possible when filed with the Court. If you fail to disclose information to the Court at the outset, some of your available options for dealing with potential problems, such as delay of filing, are no longer available. When a trustee discovers an asset or other omission before the Debtor discloses the information, the trustee is more difficult to deal with and may want a lot of additional documentation to ensure that there are not other omissions in the schedules. Bankruptcy schedules are signed under oath and it is time for the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. This can cost you time, money, delay and attorneys fees. Further, once a trustee has spent money investigating a case, they are especially motivated to find and administer assets that they might otherwise have abandoned as of negligible value to the estate.
Good clients take the time to accurately assess their assets and income so that their attorney can provide good advice regarding their bankruptcy filing and make the best possible choices pertaining to timing, exemptions and chapter choice.
Good clients seek advice early and do not attempt to or transfer assets to friends and family for “safe keeping” before filing bankruptcy. Transferring assets to family and friends before filing bankruptcy can create legal troubles for you and your loved ones. While both we and the trustee sympathize with your desire to be welcome at the Thanksgiving table, an untimely transfer or payment on a debt, even if genuine, can cause a friend or family member to be sued by the trustee.
Good clients are ready to work closely with their bankruptcy attorney to make decisions concerning which debts they may reaffirm, which exemptions they will use and whether or not they will surrender property during bankruptcy.
Good clients appear at all required meetings during their bankruptcy case and notify their bankruptcy attorney immediately if there is a conflict that will prevent them from attending a court mandated meeting. Good clients keep their contact information current with our office and promptly respond appropriately to telephone calls, e-mails and letters.
Good clients understand that part of the deal with filing bankruptcy is the waiver of some privacy and that they will be required to respond to reasonable inquiries of the trustee and creditors with respect to their economic situation. Debtors must be willing to show hand and disclose all relevant information to the trustee. You should assume that the trustee will be able to obtain any information that is available in your records, the public records, your credit report, the banks records and your credit card records. For this reason, you should review all of your information when completing your paperwork to ensure that you accurately disclose all of your information.
Good clients advise their attorneys of any individuals that may bear a grudge against the debtor so that the attorney can be prepared to address accusations or information provided by such individuals or the trustee. When a creditor, ex-wife, angry neighbor or former friend provide information to the trustee, he or she may feel that they need to follow up unless we are prepared to address their concerns. The timely presentation of photos, appraisals, transfer documents and the like can stop the trustee before they spend time and money which tends to inspire them to hot pursuit of assets.
Good clients document their transactions properly. They use bank accounts and keep receipts where they engage in large or frequent transactions with cash.
Good clients will give all property and documents that creditors or the trustee are entitled to to their attorneys in a timely fashion.
Good clients do not contact the Court or their trustee directly or file court papers on their own while represented by Counsel.
Good clients assess their financial situation before agreeing to make payments and make agreed upon payments in a timely manner.
Good clients make requested payments to their attorneys in a timely manner.
Good clients do not share confidences, show letters or other communications from their attorneys to others or discuss specific advice given by their attorney because this may waive the attorney-client privilege.
Good clients cooperate with their attorneys and their staff, treat all parties to the bankruptcy process with appropriate respect including their attorneys and staff as well as the trustee, opposing parties and attorneys and the Judge.
Good clients who are appearing in Court with the attorney will wear appropriate attire in accord with their means. Jeans, shorts, muscle or “wife-beater” shirts, provocative clothing, flip flops and the like are not generally appropriate unless no other attire is available. Client who will be attending Court should allow enough time to be on time or early for hearings as many issues are resolved at hearings, if the parties are all present. Clients should also ensure that they have any necessary documents including photo id. If requested to bring documents, clients should generally provide these to the attorneys office in advance. If that is not possible, client should bring multiple copies of the applicable documents in case other parties of the Court need to review the documents. The dress code for 341 meetings is more casual but should show appropriate respect to the Court proceedings. For both meeting and Court attendance clients should be aware that all federal buildings are secure. Telephones, electronics and items that would not be permitted by airport security may not be admitted to the building. Security personnel are not permitted to hold items for those attending meetings or hearings and will require that items be removed from the building.