Filing for Bankruptcy in Fort Lauderdale Florida – What Assets Must I Disclose?

When you file for bankruptcy in South Florida you need to fill out the bankruptcy petition.  The petition is a legal document that you sign under oath, listing a number of things including your assets and your debts.   When you need to fill out your assets, you probably are asking what assets do I need to disclose and how will they ever find out if I omit an asset?   The simplest answer is you must disclose all your assets and a bankruptcy trustee will find stuff you failed to disclose.

The bankruptcy trustees have been reviewing bankruptcy petitions for a long time.  They are well versed in what to look for and they have a mini staff army doing the same on their behalf.  Before you ever meet your bankruptcy trustee, at your meeting of the creditors, the trustee has reviewed you bankruptcy paperwork, all required documents, and even probably ran an asset search against you.  It is imperative to list all your assets and inform your bankruptcy attorney about them.


Bankruptcy Attorney Asking Questions

When I meet with clients I ask a lot of questions about a clients assets, I do so in a way that sometimes my debtor clients get mad at me because they think that I feel they are lying to me.  It is my job to do my due diligence on my client.   I am going to ask you as many questions as I feel necessary because I want to protect your assets and prevent your case from getting dismissed or denied.  The debtor just needs to understand that these questions , while cumbersome, are in their best interest.


Assets that You May Forget About

Most of my clients are aware of the majority of their assets (bank accounts, stock accounts, investment accounts, jewelry, cars , furniture, houses) but sometimes they are unaware of other items that the bankruptcy trustee believes is an asset, and they include the following:

  1. Tax return refunds – Money that you get back in the form of a tax refund is an asset
  2. Monies owed to you –  did you let anyone borrow money from you and they haven’t paid you back?  You need to list this as a potential asset
  3. Expected Commissions/Sales – Are you a realtor and just bought or sold a house for a client but have yet to receive the commission?  The commission is a potential asset in your bankruptcy case.
  4. Foreign Assets – Do you have a house, bank account, vehicle, or anything else worth any money in another country?  The assets you have outside the United States are assets that must be disclosed.
  5. Potential personal injury claim or lawsuit – Have you been injured in an accident but haven’t filed suit or retained an attorney because you want to wait until your bankruptcy case is over?  BIG MISTAKE, a potential personal injury lawsuit is an asset that must be disclosed.


Consequences of Hiding Assets

If the trustee finds out that you are hiding assets you are going to be in BIG BIG trouble.  Enough trouble that the trustee could deny your bankruptcy discharge or even open up a criminal investigation against you for fraud.


Filing for bankruptcy is a tool that can give any debtor a fresh start, however if you try to take advantage of the system you could get yourself into hot water.  When you file for bankruptcy you should consider hiring an experienced bankruptcy attorney.  Shmucher Law, PL offers free consultations to all our potential clients, give us a call at 954.309.5559 or 305.741.5553 to schedule an appointment.


Posted by Ofer Shmucher