Why The Information You Give Your Bankruptcy Lawyer Has A Sell-By Date

27 Aug Why The Information You Give Your Bankruptcy Lawyer Has A Sell-By Date

The information your bankruptcy lawyer needs will go stale in a short time. Keeping up the freshness is important to the success of your case.

Bankruptcy information is like milk: it smells after it sits for a while.

Dump your data on your lawyer, then drop out of sight, and you risk that your bankruptcy filing based on that old information will be seriously inaccurate.

Here’s why you don’t want your bankruptcy information to go stale.

Fresh Information Is Best

A bankruptcy filing is a snapshot of your situation on the day the case is filed.

From the point when the case is filed, bankruptcy law looks both backward and forward. Your rights and the rights of your creditors are measured in part by months and years from the filing date.

For instance, the statement of financial affairs looks back at recent financial history:

  • Income year to date
  • Income for the past two years
  • Payments on old debts in 12 months
  • Transfers or gifts in past 24 months

The means test analyzes income for the six months before the month in which the case is filed. A drop in income may make your bankruptcy filing simpler; a substantial increase may require reconsidering your choice of chapter.

Information Provided To Your Bankruptcy Lawyer Spoils Quickly

Lives are fluid and when months go by between starting work on preparing bankruptcy documents, the changes can have significant consequences to your bankruptcy case.

For example:

  • Bank accounts are opened or closed;
  • Lawsuits are served;
  • Asset values change.

Each of those changes can alter your rights and those of your creditors and your family.

When asset values change, what’s exempt may change.

Acquire property, or just add your name to the title of someone else’s property, and the property may be vulnerable to your creditors in bankruptcy.

Fail to pick up new creditors and the debt may not be discharged.

Time improves cheese and red wine. Not so with the information your bankruptcy lawyer needs to make your case a successful one.

Provide Information When Necessary, Not Before Then

If events or lack of funds put your bankruptcy filing on hold for a while, be prepared to revisit the information you may already have provided.

While it may be tedious and time consuming to gather more information or submit to another interview with your lawyer, it is absolutely in your best interest to have the information fresh and complete.

As my colleague Dana Wilkerson explains, we aren’t trying to torture you, we’re trying to get your bankruptcy filing right.

Image credit:Scorpions and Centaurs

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Cathy Moran, Esq.

I'm a certified specialist in bankruptcy law (California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization) practicing in the San Francisco Bay Area for more than 30 years. In addition to practicing bankruptcy law, I train new practitioners at Bankruptcy Mastery.
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