Vance P. Truman, Attorney at Law
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How will the trustee know if I hide assets in a bankruptcy?

You were tired of dodging creditors' calls and lying awake at night worried about all the debts you couldn't pay. You decided that it was time to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in order to get some relief.

However, you hate to lose your possessions in an asset seizure and figure there's no way that you could be discovered if you failed to disclose all your assets in the bankruptcy petition.

This is a recipe for disaster. Nothing you own is worth crossing the line from debtor to felon, which is what you will do if you attempt to hide your assets when filing for bankruptcy.

Here's how you might get caught:

On the bankruptcy application form, you listed your personal information as well as information regarding your income, expenses, financial history, assets and liabilities. At some point, you also must provide the bankruptcy trustee with copies of tax returns, pay stubs, banking transactions, creditors' statements and anything related to any lawsuits to which you are a party.

It's then up to the trustee to reconcile your asset disclosures with the information that you provided. For instance, if you failed to disclose your timeshare ownership in a Myrtle Beach condo, but your bank records indicate that you paid homeowner association (HOA) fees, you could have a real problem on your hands.

Ditto for any major electronics or fine jewelry purchases that the trustee can trace to your credit card or otherwise but that you failed to disclose. It's simply not worth going to prison over, and that could be the end result.

Many debtors choose to file for bankruptcy under Chapter 13 rather than Chapter 7 because they don't have to forfeit their assets. Your Medina bankruptcy attorney can review your situation and offer their suggestion for the best option available to you.

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