Personal finances are a private matter, so it’s not surprising that people want to keep their bankruptcy confidential.
Bankruptcies are a matter of public record. This means that anyone can perform a search on the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy’s website to determine if an individual has ever made an assignment in bankruptcy. The search costs a minimum of $8.00. It’s highly unlikely that your friends, family, or neighbours will be investing the time and money to perform these searches to dig into your personal affairs, but it is possible.
When you apply for credit, potential creditors will be able to tell that you’ve filed for bankruptcy 6 years after your discharge and 3 years after you obtain your certificate of completion if you filed a consumer proposal.
Trustees in Bankruptcy are not lawyers. They are officers of the court. No client attorney privilege exists. The Trustee in Bankruptcy that you deal with is not working for you; they are simply administering your process on behalf of the court. If you tell them about a bankruptcy offence, or hidden assets, they have a legal duty to disclose that information to your creditors.
On the flip side, they only share your personal information when required by law or the administration of your proceeding.
The exception is that an advertisement must be placed in the newspaper when a bankrupt’s non-exempt assets exceed $15,000. This is to ensure that creditors who would receive a portion of those assets are aware of the bankruptcy and properly notified. In our experience, only a small percentage of bankrupt individuals have more than $15,000 in non-exempt assets.
While a warranted concern, confidentiality should not be the primary driver in your decision to declare bankruptcy or not. Financial problems take their toll in the form of stress and pressure. Understanding your options and getting help is the most important thing so that you can make an informed situation about what is best for you. With information in hand you are able to weigh the pros and cons of each solution and make the best choice.
If you’re struggling with debt, then let us know. We’re here to help. Let us impress you with a prompt response, even during evenings and weekends.