The attorneys in our firm have over 100 combined years of practicing law in the arena of bankruptcy. We’ve heard different stories from prospective clients and we have met with some disturbing proposals. These disturbing proposals likely come from a mis-perception that many people have about the relationship between a client and their attorney. We’ve all heard about client confidentiality, but how many people really know what that means?
There is a perception by some folks that the purpose of an attorney is to advise them on how to break the law without getting caught. This concept has, no doubt, been something that has come about as a result of some unscrupulous television show lawyers. Your attorney is there to provide you with legal advice, provide you with options, and help guide you through your legitimate course of action in any given area of law. Your attorney is not permitted to advise you to break the law. Your attorney is not permitted to assist you in breaking the law, or to conspire with you in breaking the law.
When you meet with an attorney, it’s important to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Your attorney will be able to guide you through many important aspects and plan to take actions which you are not necessarily aware of. These are legal actions which, if taken appropriately, can protect you, your family, and your assets. Your attorney may advise you take a variety of actions to protect your interests. These may include a variety of things that you, as a lay person, were unaware of. This might be something as simple as making sure you legitimately spend your bank account down below $ 300.00 before you file bankruptcy. It might mean that you need to wait a while to file your bankruptcy in order to avoid a preference issue.
The point is that your attorney cannot properly advise you to your best interest if s/he does not have all of the available, accurate, and truthful information. If you tell your attorney something that you think is bad for your upcoming case, the attorney may be able to advise you how to ameliorate the circumstances. At a minimum the attorney can advise you what harm may come to you for the bad action if you file bankruptcy. This will allow you to decide if filing a bankruptcy now is in your best interest, or if filing later is better.
There are a lot of documents that must be prepared, signed, and filed in your case. Its important to know more than just how to fill those documents out. A good attorney will know the ramifications of your answers on the documents and will consult with you about those ramifications before your bankruptcy case is filed.
When the documents are prepared, they should be as accurate and truthful as possible. Once filed with the bankruptcy court, there can be some negative aspects to making amendments. The documents are signed under penalty of perjury before they are filed with the court. You are stating that they are true and correct. In many instances an amendment is saying “oops, I forgot something”. It’s clearing saying that your statement before “that the information in the documents was true and correct” was not true and correct. Amendments are often done, but it is much simpler for your case if you get it right to start with, and do not have to file an amendment.
Bankruptcy Code Section 11 U.S.C. § 727(d) says a bankruptcy discharge may be revoked or set aside. This can happen if someone files a motion with the court and proves that the debtor obtained the discharge through fraud. Fraud might include the failure to list assets on the bankruptcy schedules, or making some sort of a material misstatement on the documents. You definitely want to avoid this possibility. As such, this can be avoided by simply telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.