One of the most memorable rhymes of my childhood is, “liar, liar pants on fire.” Little did I understand then how important the truth will be to me in the practice of law. Everything in this business hinges on the truth. Simply because two people testify differently does not mean one is lying, although that is certainly a valid assumption.
Bankruptcy Petition Assumes Honesty
The bedrock of a personal bankruptcy case is honesty. It is a place where the honest debtor can find relief from his creditors. On December 1, 2015 the concept of honesty in bankruptcy cases changed. The law has not changed. Procedure has. We now have modernized and simplified forms. These forms are so simplified that the average bankruptcy petition will be at least 25 pages longer. Did the same department that simplified your tax forms handle this one? Not really, but the government’s take on simplification is interesting. They use a different dictionary than the rest of us.
Moving Closer To Federal Perjury
In this regard, the thing that has changed is the signature declaration. Previously, you were signing under penalty of perjury that the information in the petition was true and accurate to the best of your knowledge This standard left a bit of wiggle room in the event you did not recall something precisely or did not provide the requested documents for verification. The form has changed almost imperceptibly. The words,”to the best of my knowledge” are left out. Now you are swearing or affirming the information in your bankruptcy petition is true and accurate without wiggle room.
The Judges on the forms committee say the change was to bring the bankruptcy signature disclaimer into line with the requirements of the federal perjury law. Why? Does the government plan to begin prosecution of inaccurate or incomplete bankruptcy petitions, or does it want to make its job easier when they decide to prosecute? Who knows? Time will tell.
New Bankruptcy Questionnaire
To prevent your pants from smoldering and maybe bursting into flame at your meeting of creditors Balena Law Firm, LLC has made some intake changes to insure your bankruptcy filing is as accurate as you can make it. At your consultation you will receive a new questionnaire. Like the new bankruptcy petition this is longer than the one we previously used. It asks for more information and additional paperwork from you to insure your bankruptcy petition is as accurate and truthful as we can make it. On the bright side, it is more explanatory, easier to understand, and easier to enter the information.
I will be emailing new clients who have not yet filed their cases the new questionnaire as well. The new bankruptcy forms apply to all filings after December 1, 2015. Even if your case was filed prior to the start date, any amendments must be on the new forms. If you completed and returned the old form, sorry, but I need you to do the new one.
The modernized bankruptcy forms are much more that a simple technical rehash older forms as many lawyers believe. It is a significant change to the level of the playing field. You need to be in the game, but more importantly so does your bankruptcy attorney. Any failure to adhere to the new procedural requirements can result in much more than simple, spontaneous combustion of you trousers.