Do I Need to Disclose Property Owned in a Foreign Country in my Bankruptcy Case?

By Ryan C. Wood

When you file for bankruptcy protection in the United States you must to list all your real and personal property.   These assets include both foreign and domestic owned property like houses, bank accounts and investment accounts.

Many people may exclude their foreign owned assets under the mistaken assumption that the bankruptcy trustee may not know or be able to trace the foreign owned assets to them, thereby making those foreign owned assets safe.  The bankruptcy trustee may have multiple ways of learning about these foreign owned assets.   Some of these methods include looking at your tax returns, bank records, official documents, or someone you know may notify the bankruptcy trustee about your assets.

The failure to disclose foreign owned assets may be due to a misconception that since you are filing for bankruptcy in the United States you only need to disclose the assets that you own in the United States.  This is completely false.  You need to disclose ALL assets owned whether these assets are located in the United States or another country.

If you purposefully exclude these foreign owned assets in your bankruptcy petition you will be committing perjury that may subject you to criminal prosecution.  You could potentially be fined up to $250,000 and/or five years in prison.  The bankruptcy judge may also dismiss your bankruptcy case.  The trustee may liquidate your excluded asset in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case.  None of these outcomes are good for you or your financial situation.  Obviously these results are counter-productive of what you had originally intended, a fresh start free of financial burdens.  An honest debtor receives the fresh start that he or she needs, but a dishonest debtor may end up in a worse situation than what he or she intended.  The moral of the story – be the honest debtor so you receive the outcome that you want.

Just because you have assets in a foreign country does not mean that you would need to give up those assets when you file for bankruptcy.  You still receive exemptions that protect the assets you have.  Whether or not all of these assets are exempted depends on your particular circumstances.  It is best to discuss your situation with an experienced bankruptcy attorney to ensure that all or most of your assets are protected.  Even if not all your assets are protected, the attorney may go over what your options are. You may contact our experienced Fremont bankruptcy attorneys or Oakland bankruptcy attorney today at 877-9NEW-LIFE or 877-963-9543 for a free consultation.