If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, there are a number of ways you can prepare your financial situation before you file a bankruptcy petition that can help your case and bring about the best results for you. Many of these preparation techniques are acceptable methods for improving the possible outcome of your bankruptcy case—for example, choosing a certain time to file or avoiding certain financial obligations. However, there are instances when certain actions done before filing for bankruptcy or during a bankruptcy case can result in the dismissal of your case on the grounds of “bad faith.” Behm Law Group, Ltd. offers legal advice and assistance to help prevent a potential bad faith bankruptcy case when you’re filing for bankruptcy in New Ulm, MN.
While there are legitimate means of preparing for filing for bankruptcy or altering your finances to your advantage before you file a bankruptcy case, some such techniques could be considered bankruptcy “red flags” and prompt your bankruptcy trustee to determine that your case has been filed in bad faith. When you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must meet the “good faith” requirement in order to proceed. If there are aspects of your case that suggest you may be trying to take advantage of the bankruptcy system, your bankruptcy trustee or even one of your creditors could view your case as having been filed in bad faith and could ask the bankruptcy court to dismiss your case.
Examples of common actions or circumstances that could be construed as bad faith include:
- The filer hid certain assets, like keeping cash in a coffee jar or in a safe in one’s home, and did not disclose the cash in one’s bankruptcy petition.
- The filer has little to no cash flow and is not registered as being unemployed with the government (this could alert a trustee to think that there is hidden income somewhere – the trustee could conclude that you are working for cash only and not disclosing it).
- The filer had a job change during the bankruptcy period or recently prior to filing for bankruptcy and did not reveal an income increase to the trustee.
- The filer made one or more large luxury purchases prior to filing for bankruptcy (vacation expenses, electronics, and jewelry are common examples).
Another common occurrence that may lead to a dismissal for bad faith is an attempted conversion from a Chapter 13 case to a Chapter 7 case.
Chapter 7 Conversion When Filing for Bankruptcy
If a filer is in a Chapter 13 repayment plan, one may attempt to convert that case to a Chapter 7 case if one can no longer pay the monthly Chapter 13 plan payments. This can occur if the filer had a job change, experienced a temporary period where one was unemployed, or incurred unexpected large expenses. However, if the filer begins to convert a case to Chapter 7 and one’s situation improves during that time (for example, one gets a better paying job, or a family member gives one a large sum of money through inheritance or otherwise), one’s case could be dismissed for bad faith. In short, it would be seen that one would be inappropriately trying to convert to a chapter 7 case – essentially indicating that one does not have the financial ability to make any payments to one’s creditors – from a chapter 13 case. Given the receipt of a large sum of money from a relative or given a higher paying job, the trustee and the bankruptcy court would conclude that one would have the ability to continue making payments to one’s creditors and should, therefore, be required to stay in a chapter 13 case.
There are other examples of why your case may be dismissed for bad faith, and you can learn about all the additional circumstances that may lead to bad faith in the American Bankruptcy Institute Journal.
Find out more about filing for bankruptcy in New Ulm, MN with the help of Behm Law Group, Ltd. and contact us today at (507) 387-7200.