Do you have a thought that you might not report something you own in your bankruptcy filing? After all, how is the trustee going to find out? Before you actually do something like that, let me count the ways the trustee might find out.

1. Searching the Internet

Trustees are very internet savvy. Have you thought about how much Google, Facebook, and other places know about you?

2. Checking Registry of Deeds

Again, that's a simple thing to do for someone who is familiar with it, as I assure you trustees are.

3. Examining Documents

Trustees can request and examine bank statements, tax returns, special endorsements on property insurance, insurance declarations, financial statements filed in the divorce case, etc. The list goes on and on.

4. Reported by Others

It's not uncommon for people who see things that they think aren't quite right to report it, as in "I struggled and didn't file bankruptcy, but John and Martha did and they a got a head start. That's not fair and I'm going to report it."

5. Reported by Angry People

This is an important subset of #4, definitely worth of a separate entry. Many ex-spouses, ex-friends, ex-business partners, and other "enemies" would not think twice about reporting omissions of assets to the U.S. Trustee's office. There is no time limit. Sometimes someone is your best friend when you file bankruptcy, but five years later things have changed and off to the U.S. Trustee's office they go. This is not my good idea, but actual fact. It happens every day.

In addition, hiding assets from creditors in your bankruptcy is bankruptcy fraud, a felony under federal law. Do you really want to take a chance on that?

So what to do with assets that can't be exempted (protected from the trustee and your creditors) in your bankruptcy? A few ideas are: Sell the non-exempt assets before filing bankruptcy and use the money to pay for the cost of the case or for necessary but deferred maintenance of your house or car, or take a short vacation. Actually, you should discuss this with your bankruptcy attorney. Pre-bankruptcy planning is an important part of the process.

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2 thoughts on “Think the trustee in your bankruptcy won't find that boat?

  • May 10, 2015 at 11:38 am

    what if i won some money not a lot just 1100 dollars before i filed my case do i let the trustee know or just say nothing if they do not ask about it

    • May 10, 2015 at 12:38 pm

      Jacqueline, the schedules you filed for your bankruptcy are sworn statements under penalty of perjury that they include all of your assets and all of your debts. That money you won is an asset, assuming that you still have it on the day your bankruptcy was filed. If you filed without listing it, then you need to file amended schedules to include it, and also tell the trustee about it during your creditors meeting with the trustee. Depending on which state you live in and your other assets, you may be able to "exempt" it so you won't lose it. Also, instead of asking me here, discuss this with your own bankruptcy attorney.


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