Don’t Sign Your Bankruptcy Petition Unless You Have Carefully Reviewed It First!

15 Nov Don’t Sign Your Bankruptcy Petition Unless You Have Carefully Reviewed It First!

Before filing for bankruptcy, all of my bankruptcy clients must come to my office for a final review of their bankruptcy petition.  Often a client will tell me that they feel they don’t really have to fully review the petition because they are sure that I got everything right.  Sometimes they tell me that they don’t really have the time to fully review it.  Once in a while they even tell me that they will sign a blank petition and that I should just fill in the details.    

Well folks, that just isn’t going to happen, at least not in my office.  If your bankruptcy lawyer is willing to let you sign without fully reviewing the petition, and without getting all of your questions answered, you are setting into motion a ticking time bomb.  Maybe you will get through it all unscathed, but there is a great likelihood you will not.  And the repercussions could be disastrous.

Before your can file bankruptcy, you must review and sign your bankruptcy petition in over 8 different places.  When you sign your name, you are certifying, under penalty of perjury, that the information on the petition is true and correct.  The penalties for signing an incorrect document under penalty of perjury can be severe.  In the bankruptcy context, you could:

1)      Lose property you otherwise might have been able to protect. 

2)      Lose your ability to get a discharge (which is the whole purpose of filing bankruptcy).

3)      Be referred to the United States Attorney’s office for a possible criminal investigation.

4)      Be charged with a Federal Crime

5)      Be convicted of a Federal Crime

6)      Go to Federal Prison

Are these penalties likely to happen if you simply miss an error in your petition?  Probably not, especially if you correct the error in a timely manner.  But there are errors and there are ERRORS.  What may be a simple mistake to you may not be so simple to a trustee, or US trustee or Judge.  

Don’t take a chance.  Take the time to fully review your petition before you sign and before it gets filed with the Bankruptcy Court.  Make sure your bankruptcy lawyer takes the time to fully explain the petition to you, and answers all of your questions to your satisfaction.  Don’t be ashamed of telling your lawyer if there is something you don’t understand.  Chances are that your lawyer didn’t understand it the first (or second or third) time he or she ran across the issue.

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Peter Orville is a bankruptcy lawyer in Binghamton, located in the Southern Tier of New York. He is a member and New York co-chair of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys.
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