Saturday, February 6, 2016

Bankruptcy - How honest should I be with my attorney?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at
Totally honest is the correct answer. The bankruptcy law has some pretty complex requirements. It takes some thoughtful planning in many cases. In the best situation an unstated fact can result in additional scrutiny by the trustee and court into a case. In the worst case, it can end with criminal charges.

One day I was sitting in the meeting room waiting for creditors meetings listening to someone else's meeting while I was waiting for my case to be called. The debtor was an older man who filed for chapter 7 protection. The trustee found rental real estate titled to the debtor in the neighboring county. It was not listed in the debtor's schedules. The property that could not be protected by exemptions. At first the debtor tried to deny it and then tried to explain it away. The trustee stayed on it.
The meeting, which usually lasts about 20 minutes, when on almost an hour. At the end of the hour, the case was continued in order for the debtor and his attorney to provide additional information to the trustee. While I do not know what the final outcome was for that case, I am sure of a couple things. First it took a significantly more amount of time than one would expect for a straightforward chapter 7 case. Second, the property the trustee found became subject to the trustee's power to sell it and pay creditors. Finally, I believe the debtor was at risk of criminal charges. I'm not sure how one convincingly explains how one holds commercial rental real estate and forgets that he is collecting rent for it when he files for bankruptcy.
If the attorney knew of the assets, he may have been able to develop a better solution for the debtor. Maybe sell some of the property and settle debts... maybe file for protection under chapter 11 instead ... maybe not file at all. But a debtor will never receive that advice if he or she fails to tell his or her attorney everything.

If you want assistance, legal representation, or just want to know more about Mark Medvesky or our firm of Wells, Hoffman, Holloway & Medvesky LLP, check out our website at

#bankruptcy #Chapter7 #Chapter13 #MontgomeryCounty #lawfirm #BucksCounty #Pennsylvania

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