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It’s a Simple Bankruptcy Case… What Could Go Wrong?

Gavel being struck. Judge in background

Like all aspects of the law, the participants in the process do not control the result.  There are creditors who on some occasions insist on being heard, and there is a Bankruptcy Trustee who is appointed by the United States Trustee’s office to administer the case and review assets and income, or if the filing of the case would be considered an abuse of the Bankruptcy Code. Ultimately, a federal bankruptcy judge determines that the “debtor” (a person who files for bankruptcy protection) is granted – or not granted – a discharge of his or her debts.

Unlike most aspects of the law, however, the risks of unpredicted or unanticipated results in bankruptcy filing is remarkably low, assuming proper preparation and presentation of the case is followed.   The risks that naturally exist (the discovery of additional value or equity in assets, undisclosed assets, too much income for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy or not enough income to afford a Chapter 13 plan – being the most common) , can easily be determined prior to a bankruptcy filing by ensuring the proper paperwork is reviewed and analyzed.   Cooperation between client and counsel is essential to determining and resolving any such potential issues ahead of time and ensuring a smooth filing procedure, resulting in the issuance of the Discharge of Debtor at the end of the case.

There are few issues that cannot be successfully dealt with and still provide the potential debtors with substantial relief.   It may be as simple as ensuring the presentation of accurate paystubs to the Trustee reflecting the true income over the preceding six months prior to filing, or obtaining a true market analysis to determine the real fair market value of a property – or may involve filing for Chapter 13 relief instead of Chapter 7 in order to protect certain assets that would be at risk in Chapter 7 – but as long as the issues are honestly disclosed by the debtor ahead of time, the risks of something going poorly in the process and one actually losing some asset, or being denied a discharge is strikingly low compared to the risks one faces in other areas of the law.

While no lawyer can make a case “risk free” or “guarantee” results, we can minimize those risks to virtually nothing by engaging in extensive preparation of the case.  It is for this reason that our firm prides itself on an extensive document review of every case prior to filing.  We will ask for the client to provide numerous documents in order to ensure that we have looked at all of the potential issues that may arise and will not file until potential issues are resolved to the satisfaction of the client.   This can be admittedly a somewhat inconvenient process at times – but well worth the effort to ensure smooth sailing once the case is filed.