1.0 Completing the Questionnaire
1.1 In General
Once you have determined to file bankruptcy, it is necessary to complete the client questionnaire. It is important that you be as accurate and as complete as possible in answering each of the questions on the questionnaire. Be sure to read carefully and follow the instructions in the questionnaire and provide each of the documents on the checklist.
The questionnaire is confidential, in that it is generally not viewed by the court or the bankruptcy trustee. If in doubt whether you should list certain information, put the information down and let the attorney determine the legal significance of the information and whether it should be included in the final documents presented to the court.
1.2 Typical Problem Areas
1.21 Emergency Filings
If your case needs to be filed quickly to stop a foreclosure, judgement, garnishment, or any other action by a creditor, please note that information on the second page of the Bankruptcy Questionnaire. In addition, you must supply the Attorney with a copy of the Writ of Garnishment, Notice of Sale, or Complaint; and if appropriate, the Name of the individual in your payroll department that handles garnishments and their fax number. Often clients will neglect to complete this portion of the questionnaire and thus the attorney is unable to send out the appropriate notices.
1.22 Incomplete Information
The attorney cannot complete the filing of your bankruptcy without complete information. He has no discretion under the new law. You should understand that you are the primary source of information the attorney has regarding your financial affairs. Please do not tell the attorney that you donít know the information. That will not excuse failing to provide the information. Congress requires you to go out and find it so the attorney can place it on your pleadings. In some instances this may require you to contact your creditors and ask for copies of prior billing statements, or contact your bank and ask for prior monthly statements. You will be given an instruction packet of where to obtain most of the information you will need.
1.23 Illegible Answers
Please write legibly. If we cannot read your writing we cannot be responsible for errors on your paperwork.
1.24 Omitted Creditors
If you leave off any debts the court will require you to pay an additional filing fee before these debts can be added to your bankruptcy. Until a creditor is listed on your bankruptcy paperwork, those papers are filed with the court, and notice is received by the creditor; the creditor can still pursue you in attempts to collect their debt. Corrections to you paperwork must be requested in writing in a timely fashion.
1.25 Omitted Property
It is important that you be accurate in supplying information to the attorney. Many individuals believe that if their possessions are of inconsequential value they need not list them. This often includes things like: jewelry, bedding and linens, dishes, pots, pans and silverware, and small appliances. If you omit property from your schedules you may be subject to sanctions from the court including: confiscation of the jewelry you are wearing at the time of your court hearing, dismissal of your bankruptcy, or you may be subject to criminal prosecution (which can include a $5,000 fine and a 5 year jail sentence). If the attorney knows you have misrepresented information on your bankruptcy papers and does not tell the court he can be subject to criminal sanctions and could lose his license to practice. As a result, do not ask the attorney to lie for you.
1.26 Unanswered Questions
Many clients seem to expect the attorney or his paralegalís to complete the questionnaire for them. As a general rule we cannot do this. The questionnaire is an important document that must be completed by the client for disclosure and liability reasons under the new code. If you have difficulty reading, ask a friend or relative to help you. Most of the questions have been simplified (from the original court documents) so that they can be understood by almost anyone who will take the time to read them. If you do not read the instructions, you will not know how to complete the questionnaire. After you have done your best, call and ask for assistance as set forth in the questionnaire.
In rare instances the attorney or one of his paralegalís may assist you in the actual preparation of the questionnaire. However, you should be prepared to pay extra for this service at the time it is rendered. $190 an hour in the case of the attorney and $80 an hour in the case of a paralegal. You must still bring in all of the supporting information and the assistance will be limited to reading and explaining the questions and writing down the answers you verbally provide. We cannot look in your papers to find the answers for you. We are required to use those papers to make an independent verification of the information you provide after the questionnaire has been completed.
2.0 Meeting with the Attorney
Once you have completed the questionnaire to the best of your ability, you should make an appointment to go over the questionnaire with the attorney. Do not bring children with you to this meeting. He will review it carefully noting any items that are incomplete and any additional information that he may need. If the questionnaire is not complete, he will return it to you. If there are major problems with your questionnaire, you should make a new appointment to meet with the attorney to review the questionnaire a second time. If the questionnaire needs only minor corrections, the attorney will direct you to bring the questionnaire back without the necessity of an additional meeting with him. You may give the questionnaire when it is completed and the balance of the require documents to the appropriate paralegal. She will review it briefly with you before beginning to prepare it. If the questionnaire is still incomplete it will be returned to you. Do not simply drop off a questionnaire. It must be reviewed and accepted by someone.