As a small number of us know all too well, bankruptcy is a legal process that can free us of debts that we are unable to repay. For many people it is a very daunting experience, aggravated mostly by the fact that our affairs and conduct leading up to the bankruptcy will be investigated by the Official Receiver. The purpose of this article is to help remove the uncertainty that surrounds this stage of the bankruptcy process.
The bankruptcy process
Once a bankruptcy order has been made against you, your assets will be shared out among your creditors and your conduct and affairs leading up to the bankruptcy will be investigated. It is the Official Receiver who will conduct this investigation.
Who is the Official Receiver?
The Official Receiver is an officer of the court and a civil servant within the Insolvency Service – they have two main roles:
- Protecting your estate from the date of the bankruptcy order
- Investigating your conduct and affairs leading up to the bankruptcy
How are my affairs investigated?
When you petition for your bankruptcy you are required to submit a ‘statement of affairs’ form to the court, which will detail your financial position. The Official Receiver will use this form, your bank statements, business accounts and any other relevant paperwork to question you during an interview.
The interview will take place over the telephone in the majority of cases and should usually last about one hour. You will be asked questions about the reasons for your debts and any other information about you that the Official Receiver is in receipt of, or information that may necessary for the purpose of the investigation.
Should I be worried?
The investigation stage of the bankruptcy process is nothing to be worried about providing you are honest, co-operate fully and have not committed an offense. The Official Receiver in the majority of cases will be a polite and understanding person simply doing their job.
To alleviate some of the worry it will help if you prepare for the interview by conducting some research into the process and preparing your answers. Think about the questions that you will be asked, for example the reasons for your debts and how you have spent your money. If you are able to answer the questions asked then you may never speak to the Official Receiver’s office again.
Remember that the interview is also your opportunity to ask any questions that you may have about the bankruptcy process. This is an ideal opportunity to remove any uncertainty that you may have.
Importance of advice
Due to the nature of bankruptcy, it is extremely important that you seek advice. Not only will advice ensure that bankruptcy is your best option but it should also help prepare you and remove the uncertainty for you and your family.