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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Bankruptcy Research

For judgment creditors, judgment debtors filing for bankruptcy is usually bad news. If your debtor has recently filed for bankruptcy protection, yet seems rich, or has hidden certain assets; sometimes it can make sense to do some extra research; just in case there are some discoverable leads to possible current and recent records of your debtor's actual income and assets. Solid new asset information might be of interest to the bankruptcy trustee.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is used as the example in this article, which is my opinion, and not legal advice. I am a judgment expert, and am not a lawyer. If you ever need any legal advice or a strategy to use, please contact a lawyer that knows bankruptcy law.

A creditor's Rule 2004 examination might become the start to finding important additional details related to the assets your debtor claimed, and might help you discover undeclared or severely undervalued assets. Everything depends on finding such assets, and verifying your debtor has failed to list them properly. An example might be if your debtor lists some very valuable items as being worth $200 under "miscellaneous furniture" on their bankruptcy financial schedule.

When discovery is done on a bankrupt debtor and their assets; the only goal is to find ample evidence of assets not being listed, or being severely undervalued in their bankruptcy assets schedule. If such evidence is found, a creditor or their lawyer may be able to bring this to the trustee's attention, and perhaps schedule a hearing.

Once the creditor catches their judgment debtor lying about disclosing their assets to the bankruptcy court, the creditor's attorney may have the right to challenge all subsequent orders the court makes that permits the debtor to amend their schedules.

In bankruptcy court, the "cards" are usually stacked in the debtor's favor. In certain cases, the debtor can choose any place in the USA to declare bankruptcy; even if only to make it more difficult for judgment creditors. If you want to change your odds in bankruptcy court, the circumstances must be right; and you or your lawyer must do a lot of work, to try to change the odds toward your favor.

If it is a fairly large judgment, and there seems to be a path to some available assets; it is usually worth doing some research. The best results often require you to spend time gathering and organizing what you already know, or can quickly find out about your debtor; and (for example) then hiring a private investigator and an attorney.

When you have a large judgment and a trail to undisclosed assets; you will need information and documents that prove the assets actually belong in the bankruptcy estate, which usually benefits all creditors. Consider hiring an attorney and also learn about PACER, the information portal to all federal and bankruptcy-related judgment information.

PACER is free for low-volume usage, however you must pre-register an account with them. Consider saving all important documents as PDFs (on a Macintosh, you might have to change the file extension to .pdf), and save them and at least screen shots of important status pages, in a folder. After you register with PACER, you can check there as often as you want. Court-related things tend to progress very slowly.


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