It is possible to mess up your bankruptcy and messing it up may result in your bankruptcy case being dismissed and your debts not being discharged. If you want to avoid messing up your bankruptcy then you should avoid making any mistakes, contact a lawyer, and be forthcoming and honest about your debt. Any of the following actions can lead to your bankruptcy becoming completely messed up:
- Making unnecessary credit charges immediately before filing bankruptcy claim.
- Making property transfers to avoid probate or to try and hide assets.
- Failing to make mortgage payments in Chapter 13.
- Failing to file your tax returns.
- Failing to answer your bankruptcy attorney’s questions fully and completely – and failing to update your bankruptcy attorney with new information.
- Failing to file your bankruptcy case in a timely manner — waiting months or years.
- Failing to complete necessary paperwork and allowing credit counseling certificate lapses.
- Failing to complete the required debtor education courses.
- Using post-petition bonus following Chapter 13 for frivolous spending.
- Attempting to hide money and assets from the bankruptcy trustee.
- Failing to read all the information provided to your by your bankruptcy attorney – including the required disclosures.
- Lying on bankruptcy schedules about how much money you have – which is a crime.
- Lying about owning real estate or other assets.
- Lying about a personal injury case on schedules until after settlement or until after the money is spent.
- Failing to provide your bankruptcy attorney with information about an impending foreclosure.
Tips for Handling the Required Bankruptcy Meeting with the Trustee
Don’t be a Chatty Cathy
During your bankruptcy hearing you will be required to answer questions, but only the questions. In answering the questions you should be blunt and to the point. Avoid giving the trustee in your case the entirety of your case or your whole back story. If the trustee wants specific information from you he or she will explicitly ask for it.
Answer your Own Questions
Do not bring any one else to your hearing to have other people answer for you and do not look for your attorney to answer your questions. In most cases it is not advisable to bring others with you to your hearing as they are often more distracting than helpful. No one else can answer the questions asked of you and if you do not know the answer to a question be honest about it.
Don’t Be Smarty with the Trustee
The trustee is in charge of your hearing so you should not attempt to be smarty of disrespectful. If you think that you need to be cute or smart then you need to think again as it can negatively impact your bankruptcy. Even if you believe that the trustee is intentionally rude or disrespectful you need to bite your tongue and remain calm.
It is common sense or should be common sense to tell the truth during your bankruptcy as you will be required to testify under oath. If you do not tell the truth you can be charged with perjury.
You should eliminate distractions when consulting others on your case or during your hearing. Eliminating distractions in your case is turning off electronic devices including phones, don’t chew gum, minimizing paper loads, and not bringing along the family.
Know your Bankruptcy Petition
Even if your bankruptcy petition is drafted and filed by your counsel you should still be aware of what is in your bankruptcy petition. Before the document was filed you should have previewed it and should know exactly what it contains. The questions asked by the trustee will be based off of the bankruptcy petition—so if you know your petition you should know almost every question they could possibly ask you.
You should not under any circumstance drive an uninsured vehicle to the bankruptcy hearing. It does not matter if you are intending to surrender the vehicle in the bankruptcy or give it back to the lender; in any case the vehicle should be insured. If you do drive uninsured the trustee may actually take the debtors keys.
Remember, The Trustee is not your Lawyer
The trustee in your case is a lawyer and is in charge of the bankruptcy hearings; however, the trustee is not your lawyer. A trustee cannot provide you with legal advice or answer the legal questions you may have. If you do have questions they should be addressed with your attorney either before or after the hearing.
Remember, it is an Important Date and Time
Your bankruptcy hearing is an important date— so do not be late. You should anticipate arriving to the place of hearing at least 20 minutes prior to your hearing time. Your attorney will generally want to review possible questions with you prior to the hearing. Being early will allow you to remain calm and if you are afforded the chance to watch someone else’s hearing before yours you may be better prepared for your bankruptcy case.
Bring All Required Forms of Identification
During your bankruptcy case you should have your current driver’s license and your social security card. If you do not have these forms of identification at the time of the hearing you will not be able to have the hearing. Your hearing will then be rescheduled until you can provide this documentation.