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The United States Bankruptcy Code obligates you to make a full disclosure of your financial affairs when you file bankruptcy. You must list all of your debts, show detailed information about your income and expenses, and you must show information about your assets. Any non-disclosures of assets can cause real problem and it is punishable under the Bankruptcy Code.
It is easy to get a report of your undisclosed assets from your credit cards, from a credit report and from searching old papers. Figure out all the assets, both tangible and non tangible even remotely connected to you and then make a list and give it your attorney.
Here are some examples of assets that have created problems for my clients over the years:
Unexpected inheritance–the Bankruptcy Code provides that any inheritance received within 6 months of discharge is property of your bankruptcy estate. Therefore, if you are thinking about filing for bankruptcy, think about the possibility that you could inherit money from a relative, especially if that relative is older or in poor health. If a lot of money is at stake, you and/or your relative may wish to consult with an estate planning lawyer who can discuss estate planning tools that might protect your relative’s funds.
Contingent claims–if you have been in an accident or otherwise have a claim for damages against another person, that claim is an asset and must be listed. If you do not list the asset, then proceed through bankruptcy to discharge, and later attempt to pursue your claim, your failure to list the asset can serve as bar to recovery.
Paper title–Find out if someone has made you at least owner on the papers.
Accounts receivable–When you own a small business and both your personal and business expenditures and income are intermingled. Keep them separate as much as possible.
Often, issues that will become significant problems in bankruptcy can be resolved if your attorney knows about the potential problem before you file. Sometimes, holding off a few months or engaging in attorney supervised pre-bankruptcy planning can make a big difference.