Early in the life of BAPCPA, I sat down to review a means test with a new bankruptcy lawyer. The first part of the form seemed to be complete and make sense, but as I worked my way deeper into the document, unexpected lines were blank, or numbers were small relative to my expectations.
Doesn’t the client have health care expenses, taxes, internet service, I asked? The reply: I’ve gotten to a negative number, so I stopped.
I’m sorry, but that doesn’t cut it. Why?
- What if you’ve made a mistake in the things you’ve put on the B-22 and the real numbers don’t yield a negative?
- As a bankruptcy professional, do you want to tell the client and the world you do only as much work as you think necessary?
- The client signs it under penalty of perjury.
Any one of these reasons justifies doing the job as well as you can. I know that it seems to be an exercise in make-work, not necessarily connected to the real world. But we’re stuck with it until Congress changes it.
It drives what our clients have to pay for five years. Five years of our client’s life ought to be worth doing the job right. If something changes, a mistake is found, or an item of income or expenses are disallowed, how are you going to put a good face on new numbers that vary wildly from your first filed B-22 when you include all the items called for on the form?