August 17, 2015

When interviewed by our attorneys, potential clients are asked important questions. To keep the clients best interest in mind, sometimes these questions are asked in more than one way.  This is especially crucial in bankruptcy.  Answers to these questions may require more than a yes or no.  Not getting the correct answers can be a sanctionable mistake, especially with increased scrutiny now being given to the information contained in bankruptcy pleadings. For example, a client may not understand that the attorney needs to know about their fractional ownership interests in assets, such as vehicles, joint bank accounts with relatives, or a family cottage.  Instead of simply asking if the client owns any other bank accounts, we ask, “are you aware of your parents adding your name to their bank accounts for estate planning purposes?” At Keller & Almassian, PLC we attempt to understand the client’s true financial circumstances by going beyond the intake informational form or questionnaire.  Clients think about assets and liabilities differently than attorneys. It is unlikely that a client, when asked in December whether they are entitled to a tax refund, will answer “yes.”  It is far less likely that the client’s answer will be “yes” in June.  However, the anticipated, prorated tax refund must show up on the client’s schedules. Asking questions and giving examples in this way provides the most accurate information for the client’s pleadings and allows the attorney to attempt to protect those assets and decreases the possibility of the unpleasant circumstance in which a client gains full understanding of such questions when asked by the Trustee at the 341 meeting of creditors.

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