What to Tell Your Bankruptcy Lawyer

The relationship between the bankruptcy lawyer and the debtor is just as, if not more, unique as any other attorney-client relationship that the law creates. This is because the legal process of personal bankruptcy is unlike any other field. Instead of litigation, juries, and plea bargains, bankruptcies consist of Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy forms, equations, and detailed financial history of each client. Due to the complexities that bankruptcy brings with it, it is vital to understand how to effectively communicate with your bankruptcy attorney to ensure a successful case. Here are a few items to make sure to tell your bankruptcy lawyer:

  1. All About Your Finances: During your initial consultation with your bankruptcy lawyer you will most likely be answering quite a few questions about your financial situation, and you should be completely forthright with your responses. There is no need to feel shame from your situation. Remember that keeping financial information from your bankruptcy attorney can be, in some cases, detrimental to the outcome of your case.
  2. About Any and All Property: Sometimes debtors get intimidated when they hear that all property and/or debt will need to be listed in the official bankruptcy paperwork so they choose not to tell their attorney about certain property. The truth is, there isn’t much to be scared of. In fact, if you are upfront with your attorney about the property that you own, he/she will be able to tell you immediately what bankruptcies can and cannot protect. If you choose to omit certain information about property that you own, the bankruptcy court will find out about it and fraud charges could arise.
  3. About Any Prior Businesses: Although you might assume that your bankruptcy attorney will ask you all necessary questions, it shouldn’t stop you from voicing anything in your financial history that might be easy to miss like prior business ownership. In many cases prior ownership in a business means nothing on Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 bankruptcy forms but in some cases it does. Just to be safe, be sure and make your bankruptcy attorney aware.
  4. About Expected Post-Bankruptcy Income: Many clients think that once their bankruptcy is over the courts will stop caring what happens to them financially. That is unfortunately not true. For this reason you should tell your attorney about any expected settlement, inheritance, or other large sum of money you expect to receive during or soon after your bankruptcy.

Ultimately the communication you have with your bankruptcy attorney is crucial to the success of your case. Accurately filling out the Chapter 7 bankruptcy forms and the Chapter 13 bankruptcy forms is the job of your attorney, but the job of being completely open about your situation is your responsibility entirely. Purposely neglecting to tell your bankruptcy attorney something about your finances is not viewed well in the court, and in some cases can lead to the overall dismissal of your case if the court feels that you committed fraud. Just remember that your bankruptcy attorney is on your side, and wants to allow bankruptcy to serve its purpose to help you achieve a fresh financial start.

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