By Adam Mack, J.D.
Do I have to disclose everything on my bankruptcy petition? It is surprising how often the question comes up. The answer is a resounding, unequivocal YES! The bankruptcy forms require to you list particular information. If it asks for that information, then you need to be completely transparent. So why would this be a question? There are many different reasons and motives why a person may want to leave certain details off of their Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 petition. And sometimes the reasons can be well intended, although unlawful.
For example, I have had many clients who had medical debt, and had a special appreciation for their doctor and wanted leave him/her off the petition because they did not want the doctor to think they were trying to get out of paying the doctor’s bill. Another example is the client who really likes to shop at a particular retail store and cannot bear the idea of losing that credit line. Well, as much as it may sting, it is often a good thing to lose access to lines of credit, especially when struggling to meet other financial obligations. Then there is the occasional client that wants to withhold the contact information from an ex-spouse to whom they owe child support or maintenance to because they do not want to “get an earful” when their ex finds out they filed bankruptcy.
Of course, there is the person who wants to hide non-exempt assets so they do not lose them in a bankruptcy. In my experience, these people are rare, but they are certainly out there. People in this category must beware. When yo sign your bankruptcy petition, you sign it at risk of perjury. And both perjury and bankruptcy fraud are crimes. Certainly, whatever a person may think he or she can save by lying on his or her bankruptcy petition is merely trinkets when compared to losing one’s liberty to a criminal conviction resulting from being dishonest on their bankruptcy paperwork.
So often, much of a person’s non-exempt assets can be dealt with through legitimate and legal pre-bankruptcy planning. If you are reading this, don’t make the mistake of thinking you can pull the wool over the eyes of the trustee or judge. They know how to spot those who are hiding assets or not disclosing required information. Your best option is to retain a qualified Kansas bankruptcy lawyer to assist you in the preparation and filing of your bankruptcy petition and schedules.