Filing bankruptcy can be the best solution for people in financial trouble. It can give you a fresh start in life by wiping out a crushing debt load, or help you save a home from foreclosure.

However, bankruptcy is serious business, and requires full disclosure of your financial situation - what you own, what you owe, what you earn, and what you spend. This is all put into something called the Bankruptcy Petition, and when you sign it, you are doing so under oath that the information it contains is correct to the best of your knowledge.

Don't Lie on a Bankruptcy Petition!

Lying on your bankruptcy petition, therefore, is a really bad idea! You can face some very serious consequences for doing so. This video, created by the bankruptcy courts, gives some details.

The 3 Biggest "Don'ts"

In my experience working with clients over the past 25+ years, I have found that there are some common mistakes made. Here are the three biggest don'ts when you give your attorney the information he or she needs to file your case:

  • Not list all of your debts. You must list everything you owe to everyone, even if it is to your mother or your Aunt Mabel. Bankruptcy law seeks to treat all creditors equally, and not listing one, for whatever reason, is a no-no.
  • Not list all of your assets. You must list everything you own, even if you do not think it has much value. Go to some effort to put a value on those assets, like going to the Kelley Blue Book site to value a car. Recklessly or intentionally lowballing the value of an asset is not a good idea. Don't wear all of your jewelry to the meeting with the trustee, and then testify that you do not own any jewelry. What you are wearing might be paste, but you will still be lying under oath.
  • Not list all of your income. You must list all income from every source. The work you do for your brother-in-law under the table is still income and must be disclosed. Be sure you declare all income on your tax returns, because trustees review those and will find inconsistencies between the tax return and the bankruptcy petition.

If you lie on your petition, you could be denied a discharge. In other words, your debts will not be wiped out in this, or any future bankruptcy! On top of that, you could go to jail (Look what happened to Lenny Dykstra)!  Believe me, it isn't worth it.  Give all of the information to your attorney, leave nothing out, and answer his or her questions truthfully and accurately.  You'll be glad you did!

So What Do I Do?

As bankruptcy is serious business, with serious consequences for getting it wrong, you need to be serious about doing it. Have an attorney at your side is therefore a very good idea.

If you live in Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Salem or Cumberland County, are considering filing bankruptcy, and are ready to take action, please call me at 856-432-4113 or contact me through this site for a free consultation in my Woodbury office to discuss your case.

If you are looking for more information about bankruptcy, then download my free book, Top Questions People Ask About Filing Bankruptcy in New Jersey.

Not sure if bankruptcy is right for you? Take the quiz to the right to find out more!

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Steven J. Richardson
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