By Rachel Lynn Foley, Esq.
March 27, 2012
Bankruptcy Case Communication
If you file bankruptcy...
whose duty is it to communicate with the court and the trustee? You may think it is the attorney’s duty solely but many judges will tell you that it is also your responsibility to stay involved in your case. I recently watched a case where the debtors tried to explain that they were not properly updated by the attorney as to their duty to comply with a court order. No proof was given that the attorney did not do his job and that the debtors’ failure to obey the court’s order was due to the attorney. End result? The case was dismissed because the judge stated it was the debtors’ duty to comply with the court’s order.
When you file a bankruptcy case, regardless of a Chapter 7 or 13, you will receive communications/documentation from the court and your attorney. This means that even if your attorney does not send you documentation, the court does. It is your responsibility to stay informed and involved in your case. When you receive acommunication regarding your case be sure that you understand what it means. If the document indicates that you have an order be sure to comply with that order or your case may be dismissed. If there is a hearing on your case and your attorney has not responded to you, go to the hearing and explain to the judge what is going on. Also keep in mind that you have the right to appear at any of the court hearings regarding your case.
You must be involved in your case and stay involved throughout the entire procedure. I recommend that when you begin the bankruptcy that you purchase a portable file bucket. The $11 investment will more than pay itself back when it comes to managing your case. In that bucket you are going to place every piece of documentation you receive on the case. In addition you are going to place a copy of your filed petition and plan if you are filing a chapter 13. If you have not received a copy of your petition ask your attorney for one. If for some reason you cannot obtain a copy from your attorney you can always purchase a copy from the clerk of the court.
Why should you care about having a copy of your filed documents? BECAUSE IT IS YOUR CASE! You are the one signing under penalty of perjury that everything is truthful and accurate. You should read over the documents and re-read them and continue to re-read them until you are comfortable with everything that is within the documents. If you are not sure what is in the documentation, ask questions. If your attorney is not answering your questions, find a new attorney. Keep in mind, I am not saying that you must like what your attorney is saying. Sometimes we must tell you things you don’t want to hear. However your attorney should be answering your questions.
I cannot stress enough that when you file bankruptcy you will be held liable for the information within the documents filed with the court. Saying that you were not aware of what was filed may not be enough to avoid criminal charges or sanctions from the court.
Remember that knowledge is power. The more knowledge you have about YOUR CASE the more power you will have to keep your case alive and obtain a discharge.