The Bankruptcy Alphabet – G is for Garbage In, Garbage Out

My Bankruptcy Alphabet entry for the letter G is “Garbage In, Garbage Out,” based on the old phrase about computer data entry. If you feed a computer senseless data, the computer will mindlessly process the data and give you a senseless output.

The same theory works with bankruptcy filings. If a client gives an attorney “garbage” information, the resulting file produced by the attorney will likewise be “garbage.” And if the attorney files a case based on faulty information, the results of the case will be . . . let’s say, “less than optimal.”

A bankruptcy filing requires teamwork between the client and the attorney. A client can’t expect to drop a box of bills on the attorney’s desk and say, “here. Fix this for me!” And an attorney can’t expect the client to complete the bankruptcy schedules and analyze the legal implications of each entry.

Many bankruptcy attorneys ask the client to fill out a worksheet and return it. The attorney (or the legal assistant) puts the file together and reviews everything with the client before the case is filed. If the client is careless in filling out the worksheet, the file that results won’t produce a satisfactory outcome. For example:

– If the client omits assets from the worksheet, the attorney won’t be able to disclose and exempt them. The client may end up losing those assets.

– If the client omits creditors, those debts may not be discharged at the end of the case.

– If the client doesn’t tell the attorney about the $5,000 payment made to Mom & Dad last March, the bankruptcy trustee may avoid the transfer, sue Mom & Dad to recover the $5,000, and distribute the proceeds to the other creditors.

– If any of these omissions were intentional, the client could also face criminal charges of bankruptcy fraud.

A good file requires good data. You’ll be signing your bankruptcy petition and schedules under penalty of perjury, so you need to make sure everything is accurate. It can’t be accurate unless you give your attorney all the information he or she requests. If you give your bankruptcy attorney good data, you’re likely to get back a well-prepared file. And the well-prepared file is likely to result in a smooth bankruptcy case and favorable resolution.

Bankruptcy attorneys from around the country are taking part in this “Bankruptcy Alphabet” exercise. Please take a few minutes to check out these other blog posts on the letter “G.”

Garnishment – by New York Bankruptcy Lawyer, Jay S. Fleischman
Garnishment – by Maui Bankruptcy Attorney, Stuart Ing
Garnishment – by Philadelphia Suburban Bankruptcy Lawyer, Chris Carr
Garnishment – by Daniel J. Winter, Chicago Bankruptcy Lawyer
Garnishment – by Birmingham Bankruptcy Attorney, Elizabeth Johnson
Gee!!! – by Philadelphia Bankruptcy Lawyer, Ray Kempinski
General Unsecured Creditor – by Omaha/Lincoln, Nebraska Bankruptcy Attorney, Ryan D. Caldwell
Gifts – by Los Angeles bankruptcy attorney, Mark J. Markus
Goals – by Colorado Springs Bankruptcy Attorney Bob Doig
Gomes v. Countrywide Home Loans – by Lakewood, CA Bankruptcy Attorney, Christine A. Wilton
Good Credit After Bankruptcy – by Houston Bankruptcy Attorney, Eric Southward
Good Faith – by Taylor, Michigan Bankruptcy Attorney, Christopher McAvoy
Good Faith – by Metro Richmond Bankruptcy Attorney, Mitchell Goldstein
Good Manners – by Cleveland Area Bankruptcy Lawyer, Bill Balena
Good To Me – by San Francisco Bankruptcy Attorney, Jeena Cho
Got Ya! – by St. Louis, Missouri Bankruptcy Attorney Nancy Stokley Martin
Guaranty – by Northern California Bankruptcy Lawyer, Cathy Moran
Personal Guaranty – by Livonia Michigan, Bankruptcy Attoney, Peter Behrmann
Guilt – by Jacksonville Bankruptcy Attorney, Monica D. Shepard
Guilty – by Detroit Michigan Bankruptcy Attorney, Kurt O’Keefe
Gumshoe – by Marin County Bankruptcy Attorney, Catherine Eranthe

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