Avoiding the Red Flags of Bankruptcy
All bankruptcy cases are not created equal. While hiring an experienced bankruptcy lawyer can help ensure your experience is positive, there are certain things you can do that trigger additional scrutiny by your bankruptcy trustee. These are known as bankruptcy red flags.
In bankruptcy, I am of the opinion that it is better to fly under the radar. Blend in with the crowd. And…..well, that is all I’ve got for cliches describing anonymity. Regardless, I am sure you get the picture.
If you are filing for bankruptcy protection, I recommend you familiarize yourself with the list below. If those things mentioned do not apply to your case, great. You will likely have an easier time with the process of filing for bankruptcy.
However, if you can relate to a few items on the list, don’t despair. Just prepare yourself for the possibility of additional scrutiny by your bankruptcy trustee.
- The Sale of Assets to Friends or Family: Selling non-exempt property prior to filing bankruptcy is perfectly legal, so long as the proceeds are either spent on allowable items or turned over to your bankruptcy trustee. If you sell these items to friends or family members, expect a request for thorough documentation proving that the sale price met or exceeded fair market value.
- Previous Bankruptcy Filings: If you have filed numerous bankruptcy cases in the past, expect additional scrutiny. Unfortunately, people have both abused the protections offered by filing for bankruptcy with no intent to pursue a discharge and have attempted to dismiss their case to protect non-exempt assets. Your trustee will be looking for these things.
- Missing Paperwork Documenting Stated Wages or Expenses: If you fail to submit documentation relating to your stated earnings or the cost of various stated expenses, expect your bankruptcy trustee to question you further as small alterations in these numbers can change your eligibility to receive discharge.
- High or Abnormal Expenses Prior to Filing: If your expenses have increased in the months prior to filing, your bankruptcy trustee may want additional documentation proving that these expenses do not constitute fraudulent transactions. Also, remember that credit card purchases in the months prior to filing can be contested.
- Claims of Large, Unsubstantiated Losses: If you have lost assets through gambling or undocumented investments, your bankruptcy trustee may explore these claims further, to ensure that you are not simply hiding assets from the bankruptcy court.
Don’t get me wrong, there are more. Many more. As a Phoenix bankruptcy attorney, the best advice I can give you is to simply do things by the books. Don’t try to get tricky on your bankruptcy petition, as I can guarantee that (at least 9 times our of 10) it will not work. And, in the mean time, it will put your case in jeopardy.