Interviewer: What other mistakes do people make that mess up their bankruptcy while they’re in bankruptcy or before they file it?
James Logan: I guess the other big mistake is forgetting about assets, and that’s a real problem because once the case is filed, things come up, there’s nothing we can do to protect them because we didn’t disclose them upfront. So, that’s the number one thing that people got to tell me about everything, tell me about how your mom added you to her house, tell me about your great last uncle who left you 200 acres in North Carolina, tell me about the bank accounts you got in your kids name, and the kids are minor, so your name’s on it as well.
If A Debtor Has More Than $5000 in a Bank Account, Wells Fargo Will Freeze the Money and Notify the Trustee
These are all things we need to know about. If you have more than $5,000 in a bank account, Wells Fargo will freeze the money and send a letter to the trustee automatically to let them know. That happened one time where we filed a bankruptcy and they had about $6,000 saved in an account for their 12-year old son. But the lady’s name was on it and money was frozen and we had to turn it over to the trustee because they didn’t disclose it. So, we want to make sure and that’s the number one thing is if you’re going to file a bankruptcy, tell your attorney, tell me everything and then, we’ll do the best we can to protect it, if we can’t protect it, we’ll tell you, “Hey, let’s try to settle the debts or proceed some other avenue beside the bankruptcy”. But if we don’t know about it, we can’t protect it.
Not Listing Creditors in a Bankruptcy is Not a Big Deal But Failing to List Assets is a Big Problem
Interviewer: What happens if someone’s just forgets about the debt, just forget about something, can they add it later to the program?
James Logan: If you forget about a debt, the good news is most chapter 7s are, what they call, no asset cases, meaning there was no money to distribute to the creditors, so not listing a creditor is not that the end of the world in chapter 7 because there’s no harm to that creditor. It’s very difficult problem in today’s world where you get a credit card with Citibank and they sell it to Acme Collections and then, Acme Collections sells it through Jones & Day collections and so on and so forth. So, to figure who the actual creditor is many times is difficult, so not listing creditors it not such a big deal but not listing assets is a big problem.
It is Imperative to Disclose All Assets When Filing Bankruptcy in Maryland
I had a call the other day, it wasn’t my case, but a guy forgot to list a house that his mother had added him to the deed. He filed a chapter 7 bankruptcy in Northern Virginia and the trustee found out about it about 3 years later and reopened his case. The trustee was selling his house and he asked us what he could do. Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot we can do at this point. You have got to tell everybody your assets before you file.