Interviewer: But sometimes, you can intervene and fix things that people have messed it up?
James Logan: Absolutely. The main thing you want to consider in a bankruptcy is you want to be honest and you want to disclose everything. In all the years of doing this, I’ve never seen the courts come down on anybody who is honest or made a mistake. If you try to play games with them, they will come down on you like a ton of bricks. I’ve actually seen them go after people civilly and criminally for not disclosing assets and trying to hide assets or not cooperating with a trustee, so I think at the bankruptcy web court, it says that the whole point of the bankruptcy court is to help the honest but unfortunate to get fresh start. You want to be honest in the whole process, that’s the number one thing. As long as you’re honest, you can make mistakes and people will help you in straightening it out but if you’re going to try to hide assets or play games, then they will come down on you. I’ve seen them go after people criminally.
Notable Case Studies Involving Non-Disclosure of Assets in a Bankruptcy
Interviewer: Do you have any examples like a case study or two when this happened and what happened?
James Logan: There’s a guy once who had some skidoos or Jet Ski things that he forgot to disclose. I don’t think they went after him criminally but I know they came back and reopened his case and vacated his discharge and that was not good for him. They were worth $15 to $20,000.
Everything that an Individual is Filing in Court is Under Penalty to Perjury
Interviewer: How do they investigate? Do they come to your house? They have you swear under oath what you have and what you know about, how do they know?
James Logan: Everything you’re filing in the court is under penalty to perjury. When you go to the meeting of creditors, you will be sworn in and you’re telling everything under oath. How do they find out about things? Ex-wives, ex-husbands and ex-business partners, that’s probably the most common way. People with an axe to grind and they’ll say, “Oh, so and so filed a bankruptcy. Well, he forgot to tell you about the antiques or bank accounts or real estate”.
Ex-Spouses or Disgruntled Business Associates May Disclose Certain Hidden Assets to the Trustee
That’s how it comes up, they’ll show up at the meeting of creditors or they’ll find out later that so and so filed a bankruptcy and they’ll call up to court or they call up to trustee and say, “Did so and so tell you about a safe deposit box with the Hope Diamond in it”, or whatever and they’ll start to do some investigation and then, “Wait a minute! You forgot to tell us about this.”
Public Knowledge of a Bankruptcy Filing in the State of Maryland
Interviewer: How public is your bankruptcy filing? Who has to know this and who will find out, whether you like it or not?
James Logan: Well, you have to list all your creditors, so anybody you owe money to should get notice of it. At the internet, I guess you can find out almost anything about anybody these days but it’s not really published anywhere.
In a Chapter 13 Most of the Payment Plans will Take Money Directly Out of Your Paycheck for the Trustee
Interviewer: What about work? Does work has to know? Does the place you work for, know you’ve filed, I mean who has to know besides your creditors?
James Logan: In a chapter 7, no. You don’t have to notify your work. And in chapter 13, most of the payment plans, once the cases are confirmed or approved by the court, they will issue a wage order they’ll take your money for the trustee directly out of your pay check. Your payroll department or HR department will know about it and people are afraid about that but that’s supposed to be confidential information in the payroll department. Unfortunately, obviously if you work at a company of five people, it’s not going to be confidential but if you work for a large corporation, it should be held confidential.