debt

Can I put land in my name after bankruptcy?

Justin HarelikDear Bankruptcy Adviser,
How long after I file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy do I have to wait to put property into my name? I filed bankruptcy two years ago and have some land that I want to put in my name.
-- Jeff

Dear Jeff,
I am going to start my answer with an initial assumption. I will assume that you did not own this land prior to filing your Chapter 7 bankruptcy case two years ago. If you did, I will also assume that you listed it in your schedule of assets in your bankruptcy paperwork.

I say this first only because you made the statement that you want to put your name on the property, but you have been waiting. Obviously, intentionally keeping an asset out of your bankruptcy petition asset schedules would be illegal, but with a few exceptions you don't have to notify the trustee of any assets acquired after filing.

My favorite story about bankruptcy fraud is about a lady who went on a radio talk show after her bankruptcy case ended. She bragged about how easy the process is and that she did not even list various vehicles or bank accounts. The FBI contacted her after the show, she was found guilty of bankruptcy fraud and spent some time in Club Fed.

If you have not committed any such shenanigans and you simply acquired a property post-bankruptcy, then you have nothing to fear. You are allowed to act as you did prior to the filing once your bankruptcy case closes.

The typical case stays open for four to six months from the date of filing. Thirty days after filing, you will have your hearing with the trustee assigned to your case and the trustee usually concludes his or her investigation at that hearing. Your case will close 90 days to 120 days after that hearing, and you will receive your Discharge of Debtor notice.

Make sure your case is closed before putting the land in your name. That usually happens a few days after you received your discharge notice. You can confirm that with your attorney or with the bankruptcy clerk's office.

I suggest confirming that the case is closed because on occasion, the trustee may not have concluded his or her investigation into your case even though you have received your discharge notice. It is generally very obvious that your case is still open because you are communicating with the trustee or the trustee's attorney about an issue.

Once the case is closed, you are free to acquire or transfer assets into or out of your name. You have no duty to continuously notify the trustee or the court as to your future activities.

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