Why Does My Bankruptcy Lawyer Want Something Useless?

19 Mar Why Does My Bankruptcy Lawyer Want Something Useless?

Lodewijck's Maze

Pleasure Garden or Maze?

Bankruptcy law used to make sense. Then Congress and the previous Administration intervened and decided it needed to make a little less sense. It became a little more like doing your taxes — or getting lost in a maze — and isn’t that fun?

One of the ways it doesn’t make sense is in some of the paperwork we have to ask you to give us, as your bankruptcy lawyer.

For example, I spoke to an elderly woman living in an assisted living facility recently. She hasn’t filed a tax return since the beginning of this century. She was not required to do so because her income is too low.

There is absolutely no useful information on a 10-year old tax return for me, for the bankruptcy court, for the bankruptcy trustee, or for creditors in this situation. Everyone knows that.

But the law requires that she provide the court and/or trustee with a copy of that return (or a transcript) of it or face dismissal of her case.

So, basically, the document is absolutely useless and it is absolutely critical to the success of her case. In other words, I don’t need it at all except we’ll fail if we don’t have it.

There are a lot of pitfalls and snares built into the law to make it tricky for folks who don’t know what they’re doing. Either without a lawyer or with an inexperienced one. That’s often been true of the legal system because we live in a complicated world. But some requirements don’t even make sense to those of us with over 20 years of experience.

And if you think that’s the way the law should work, then you have a profitable career ahead of you as a banking lobbyist! For the rest of us, please take heart. Your lawyer is not deliberately making you crazy with requests for petty things. He doesn’t have a bankruptcy supercomputer to get your information. He’s counting on you just the way you are counting on him or her.

And please forgive us bankruptcy lawyers sometimes for being cranky about all the little things. You will hopefully only have to deal with this process once in your life. We devote our lives to it. Say a prayer for us!

Art Credit: Lodewijk Toeput

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I have been a bankruptcy attorney since 1989. Our firm represents consumers filing bankruptcy almost exclusively, although I have represented bankruptcy trustees as well as creditors. For 2017-2018 I am also serving on the American Bankruptcy Institute's Commission on Consumer Bankruptcy. If you live in Eastern Missouri, visit our website, send an e-mail or give us a call (314) 781-3400. Our website: STLBankruptcy.com
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