26 May Why Does A Bankruptcy Lawyer Ask So Many Questions?
The bankruptcy laws have always required a great deal of information and disclosure. The new laws added another level to the paperwork. Many people believe the additional information provides very little extra disclosure, but it certainly adds to the burdens of filing. Lawyers work very hard to get the information to prepare the bankruptcy petition to try to get their clients the fresh start promised by the bankruptcy laws. It is very important to know what property you have, to best protect your property.
You may think you have already answered the question asked by your lawyer, and perhaps you have. I have been preparing bankruptcy petitions for almost twenty years, and I have found that it pays to be extra careful in gathering information. I would rather ask someone an important question again and make sure that the documents are prepared accurately, than risk that the information is missed and the bankruptcy petition is wrong.
Sometimes people just don’t remember something until they are asked a few times, or are perhaps asked in a slightly different way. For instance, clients may insist they don’t own a sofa, but upon further questioning it is revealed that they do have three couches!
Some information changes daily, like pay records and bank accounts. Attorneys might ask for those to be updated several times so they are aware of the numbers early in the process, and throughout the process. Bankruptcy lawyers don’t like discovering information on the day of filing, particularly if it means that it could harm their clients’ cases or the clients could have the property taken by the court because it isn’t exempt.
Some states protect more assets than others, and all assets must be listed accurately as of the very day a bankruptcy case is filed to determine what someone can keep (exempt) in bankruptcy.
If petitions are inaccurate, the Bankruptcy Court could deny a discharge to a bankruptcy debtor, but still administer (take) the assets of that debtor. Additionally, if the petition is inaccurate and wrongdoing is found or suspected, the bankruptcy filer could be facing criminal charges for bankruptcy fraud.
The main thing to remember about all those questions being asked by a bankruptcy lawyer is that the lawyer is trying to gather information to prepare a bankruptcy case that proceeds as smoothly as possible, and with as few surprises as possible.
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