Florida is known as being a haven for bankruptcy and over the years there have been numerous cases of fraud that have garnered a lot of attention from the media and from legislators. Fraud is a very serious offense, and it will result in your having your bankruptcy not allowed, or if it has been granted, overturned. However, most bankruptcy filings are legitimate. Despite this fact, there are things that debtors can do that will slow down the process or even put their bankruptcy in jeopardy. Here are three important tips to take and use when filing for bankruptcy in Florida.
Don’t Raise Questions
When you file for bankruptcy in Florida you will be assigned a court-appointed trustee. That trustee is in charge of your case. They are the one who will make sure that all of your paperwork is in order and that everything you have claimed in terms of assets and reported as debts is accurate and in line with state laws.
It is essential that all debts and assets are reported truthfully and that you provide the court with any official records that they require. The trustee is looking for anything that might be construed as fraud, as fraudulent filers are misrepresenting their circumstances in order to get out of paying their debts. Thus, leaving out income, any financial holding, types of property, and other assets will raise red flags. Also, claiming debts that don’t exist, only listing some of your debts, or being inaccurate regarding the amounts will lead to very close scrutiny.
The fewer questions you trustee has, the better your chances of seeing your bankruptcy allowed by the court.
Keep Your Records Clean
Any financial records that have been altered, that don’t add up, or that in some way don’t comply with legal and accepted bookkeeping standards may result in further investigation. Bank accounts in which large sums of money have been transferred or withdrawn in the past few months, large purchases of unnecessary items, and any type of extravagant spending will lead to questions being asked. Also, funds that are converted into other types of assets, that are given to others, or that are suddenly appropriated to stealth accounts will be subject to scrutiny.
Basically, if your ledgers don’t look normal in terms of how you normally do business, pay bills, or make purchases, or if they reflect sudden activity, you’re going to have to deal with delays, as the trustee attempts to make sure that everything is legitimate.
Stay Away from Furtive Actions
In this last section, this type of behavior has already been referenced to a degree. However, furtive action is a little different from the need to keep your records clean. Furtive behavior involves secrecy and the hiding of what one is doing. Thus, if you transfer money to another entity to hold for you while you go through the bankruptcy process, which is certainly never advised, and you do not report such action, you’re engaging in secretive behavior. If that occurs, the trustee and the court will begin to look at fraud as a real possibility. Keep everything above board when filing for bankruptcy.
Utilize a Bankruptcy Attorney
It is not required that those filing for bankruptcy use an attorney, however an experienced and knowledgeable bankruptcy lawyer can be a major help, as they will work with you to make sure that you have every opportunity to conform to the bankruptcy laws of Florida.
If you are considering bankruptcy, the Law Office of Kelley & Fulton, P.L., is ready to assist you. We want to help each one of our clients start on the way back to fiscal health. Our experienced bankruptcy attorneys work closely with our clients to ensure that they receive all of the legal relief offered by bankruptcy while conforming to state statues. Please call us today at 561-491-1200 so that we may discuss your circumstances in relationship to bankruptcy.