We live in an era of blind acceptance. It is likely that in the last few months you have signed a “disclosure” form or checked a “terms and conditions” for something that you did not understand.

 

Maybe you downloaded some new software to a computer or mobile phone, and it demanded that you check a box that indicated your acceptance of terms and conditions. Or you picked up a new credit card and with the form you filled out, there was a multi-page disclosure of the terms of the credit agreement.

 

If you have a mortgage, it is likely during the closing process, you signed off on what may have seemed like dozens of form, which you may have glanced at before you signed them, relying on the representation’s made by the loan officer or person handling the closing as to their meaning or significance.

Some of these assents may be meaningful, as in the case of the terms of a mortgage document, while some free piece of software that you only occasionally use may be much less significant. But if you are contemplating a bankruptcy filing, as you are assembling the documents that lay out your debts and assets on the various schedules, keep one thing in mind: make certain you understand exactly what you are attesting to before you sign.

Because lying on these documents is not merely an ethical misstep, it is a federal crime. Or, apparently, in the case of one man, he may have understood what he was doing, but suspected he would not get caught. However, disclaiming an $800,000 inheritance before your bankruptcy could trigger some red flags.

And if you are going to attempt to mislead a bankruptcy court, perhaps it would be best not to conceal part ownership in a 9-acre island with a cabin.

Source fbi.gov, “Middleton Man Pleads Guilty to Making False Statements in Bankruptcy Proceeding,” U.S. Attorney’s Office, August 25, 2015