When people are in desperate situations, they often have desperate thoughts. One of those thoughts that often comes to light in my office is the idea of hiding assets from the trustee. Sometimes it’s money, sometimes it’s your great grandfather’s old service revolver. Either way, these items must be listed in your bankruptcy petition as they are your property. Declaring them does not necessarily mean that you have to lose them, as certain amounts of personal property is exempt in bankruptcy.
18 U.S.C. §152 makes it a federal felony to knowingly and fraudulently conceal any property belonging to the estate of the debtor from the United States Trustee or from creditors. The penalty for this crime is a fine up to $250,000, up to five years in federal prison, or both.
The easiest thing to do is not hide assets in the first place. The Federal Bankruptcy Code is there to provide relief to those who need it. It allows for certain amounts of exempt property so that those who need it can attempt to restart their lives and get out of desperate situations. The best way to deal with property you don’t wish to lose in a bankruptcy is to attempt to exempt it properly. If you would like to meet with an attorney who understands how the Florida bankruptcy exemptions work, contact a Jacksonville Bankruptcy Attorney or call us at (904) 685-1200 for a free consultation.