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Admonitory tale: what not to do during the bankruptcy process

A South Florida doctor and his wife lived an indisputably lavish lifestyle for years, with the multiple homes, jewelry, artwork and other assets they purchased enabled by the hefty income the physician received from a national anesthesiology practice.

And then it all fell apart.

What ultimately befell the couple merits telling in a bankruptcy blog, given that it illustrates multiple aspects of the bankruptcy process and underscores the need for any severely debt-ridden individual to secure counsel from a proven bankruptcy attorney.

One of the first things an experienced debt-relief attorney would tell a client is to be forthcoming with a bankruptcy trustee and other officials regarding assets and liabilities.

The doctor's story illustrates what happens when authorities allege a lack of candor in the disclosure of assets in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing.

In the doctor's case, the couple's story concerning their assets ultimately became so unconvincing to the bankruptcy judge overseeing the filing that he rejected their request for a discharging of their debt.

And then criminal prosecutors entered the picture, with federal investigators charging the couple with bankruptcy fraud.

They were ultimately convicted on that change, with both the doctor and his spouse being sentenced last month to a prison term of 366 days in a federal penitentiary.

The couple expressed remorse to the judge, with the doctor stating that they have exhausted their finances and that his medical license is imperiled by his criminal conduct.

Ironically, none of the debts they sought to discharge through bankruptcy were forgiven. Indeed, they now owe all their creditors what they originally did, plus an additional amount ordered by the judge as restitution in the case.

Bankruptcy is a recognized lifeline for debt-challenged individuals and couples across the country, but filers must play by the rules.

Questions or concerns about the bankruptcy process can be directed to an experienced bankruptcy attorney.

Source: Sun Sentinel, "Hidden Rolex helped unravel bankruptcy for S. Fla. doctor and his wife," Paula McMahon, April 22, 2015

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