If your intention to file for bankruptcy is above-board and you have no intention of taking advantage of your situation, bankruptcy fraud has likely never crossed your mind. If you do not intend to commit fraud, why should you be concerned with the laws regarding it? Unfortunately, people with the best intentions filing for bankruptcy have run into issues with fraud and to avoid these issues, you need to be sure you understand what you can and cannot do.
Bankruptcy fraud covers a variety of actions. Fraud can occur if a filer:
• Conceals income or assets
• Submits a false written or verbal statement
• Assumes large debt immediately before filing
• Fails to answer questions or leaves blanks spaces on bankruptcy paperwork
• Files a tax return that varies from other financial information
If you are able to prove any misstep was done unknowingly, you might escape fraud charges. However, proving your intention can be difficult. This is why it is so important to have the experience of someone familiar with bankruptcy laws. Even an innocent mistake can appear to be intentional, so you need to tread very carefully to avoid problems.
Avoiding Bankruptcy Fraud
The most important thing you can do when filing for bankruptcy is to be as honest and open about your assets as possible. Any property you own must be reported when you file and the value of that property must be listed accurately. Additionally, you are not permitted to transfer the property to someone else. Sheltering property in this way can cause your case to be dismissed, so if you have recently transferred ownership of any of your assets, share this information with your attorney.
Filers are also limited in the number of times they are permitted to file for bankruptcy in any given time period. You have the option of filing for bankruptcy more than one time, but you must wait several years before doing so. These rules apply even if you relocate and file in a different state.
Finally, your bankruptcy paperwork must be complete. Leaving blank spaces can trigger a dismissal of your case. Even if you were waiting until you learned more or wanted to ask a question before filling in the space, you cannot submit the documents to the court until they are complete.
Filing for bankruptcy is a process and people often have questions throughout. Attempting to go it alone can be more work than necessary. It can also create serious problems for your financial situation. If you are ready to file for bankruptcy or you need assistance sorting through the paperwork and filing process, contact Robert M. Geller at 813.254.5696.