Why a Lawyer Should Prepare Your Bankruptcy Petition
When you decide to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you need to prepare and file a petition with the right federal bankruptcy court, referred to as the Voluntary Petition for Individuals Filing for Bankruptcy. This petition requires specific information, including:
- Your name/former names and address
- The type of case (Chapter 7) you are filing
- Whether there are pending bankruptcies for your spouse, business, or related parties
- Estimates of your asset values and whether you have non-exempt property
- Estimates of your debts, including the type of debt you primarily have
- Whether you have pending evictions
Further, you must submit various schedules with your petition, which involve more extensive information about your financial situation. Such schedules will include the following:
- Schedule A – Your real property
- Schedule B – Your personal property
- Schedule C – Exemptions you are claiming
- Schedule D – Secured creditors
- Schedule E – Priority unsecured debts
- Schedule F – Non-priority unsecured debts
- Schedule G – Current leases and contracts
- Schedule H – Codebtors, including spouses and businesses
- Schedule I – All sources of monthly income
- Schedule J – Your monthly expenses
The information provided needs to be thorough, detailed, and accurate, and it is all too easy to make mistakes when trying to prepare the petition yourself. It is critical to have an experienced bankruptcy lawyer handling your case who can ensure you present the proper information to the court. The wrong mistake can cause complications in your bankruptcy case, some of which can be serious.
How Errors on Your Petition Might Impact Your Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
You might not think that a couple of mistakes on the many forms you file with the court will be a big deal. However, the bankruptcy court takes accuracy very, very seriously. There will be a bankruptcy trustee assigned to your case, and part of their job will be to make sure the information you provided is complete and accurate. One main purpose of your 341 Meeting of Creditors is for the bankruptcy trustee to identify and address inconsistencies or inaccuracies.
If the trustee believes your petition and schedules are not fully accurate, it can cause delays and serious complications in your case. These can include:
- Not obtaining the discharge of certain debts if they were omitted from the petition
- Possible disqualification from Chapter 7 if there are errors involving your income and expenses, as you might not pass the means test once the errors are corrected
- Allegations of bankruptcy fraud if the trustee believes you intentionally provided false or incomplete information to wrongfully receive the benefits of bankruptcy
When you sign your bankruptcy petition, you do so under the penalty of perjury. This means that misrepresentations on your petition are the same as lying under oath in court. The penalties for perjury can include fines up to $250,000 and/or up to 20 years in federal prison. This can be in addition to any penalties or criminal charges for bankruptcy fraud.
Seek Help from a California Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Lawyer You Can Trust
When it comes to accuracy on your complicated bankruptcy petition, the stakes are high. Always have a California Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney completing all of your paperwork to ensure a successful case. Contact the law firm of Miranda, Magden & Miranda, LLP, for more information today.