The goal of filing for bankruptcy is to eliminate your debt so you can make a new start with a fresh financial outlook. Despite what others may claim, most debts are eligible for discharge through bankruptcy and many assets can even be protected.
While the law allows individuals to address their debts in this manner, creditors do have rights in bankruptcy. The law requires individuals to offer a complete list of debts when preparing to file to ensure that creditors are aware that the money owed to them may be discharged.
When You May Be Tempted to Leave a Creditor Off Your Debt List
Individuals may want to exclude a creditor from their bankruptcy for a variety of reasons. Some of the most common reasons include:
- The debt is to a family member or friend. While it can be embarrassing to have family members or friends learn of your bankruptcy, if they loaned you money that you need to pay back, they are technically creditors. The law does not discern between creditors, so they should be included. Additionally, even if a family member or friend is included in the filing, it does not mean you are not allowed to pay them back. It is acceptable to pay back what you owe after the bankruptcy if you wish to do so.
- The debt is for property you want to retain. Many people are worried about losing their homes or cars through the bankruptcy process. However, the law requires all creditors to be included, and leaving these types of debt off your list will be discovered. Additionally, there are often ways to protect these assets and retain them even through bankruptcy.
- The debt cannot be discharged through bankruptcy. There are some forms of debt that cannot be discharged through bankruptcy, such as spouse and child support, student loans, recent taxes, and more. Even though they will still have to be paid, they must still be included in the list of creditors to help gain a complete understanding of your financial picture.
Failing to Identify a Creditor is Illegal and Can Result in Further Expense
If you choose to pursue a bankruptcy, then it is only fair that your creditors be made aware that you are seeking to discharge what you owe to them. They can then participate in the bankruptcy and be paid whatever is garnered through that legal avenue. Failing to identify a creditor denies them that right. Knowingly doing so can result in failure to discharge the debt, dismissal of your case, or even criminal charges.
In some cases, individuals have many creditors and may innocently omit one during their filing. These mistakes can typically be remedied, but it is best to get it right the first time. The experienced attorneys at Chesterfield Bankruptcy Law can help you examine your financial situation and prepare a complete and thorough Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.