Inheritance After Bankruptcy Discharge

The bankruptcy law says that if a debtor inherits money from someone who dies within 180 days of the date the debtor filed bankruptcy, that money becomes part of the bankruptcy estate even if you received a Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge. What that means is that if you filed bankruptcy September 30, 2009 and a relative/friend died December 30, 2009, and you inherited money from them, you would need to report that money to the bankruptcy court and it would become part of the bankruptcy estate. However, it is not illegal to make plans so that your inheritance does not fall under the jurisdiction of the bankruptcy courts.

Here are your options:

  1. Your friend/relative can setup a spendthrift trust for your inheritance. The bankruptcy court cannot seize a spendthrift trust if it is properly created. You will need an attorney to properly create the spendthrift trust and avoid trouble with the bankruptcy court.
  1. Your friend/relative can rewrite their will to remove you from it so that another person inherits the money. That person, if they choose can then gift the inheritance to you 180 days after you filed bankruptcy or they may be able to give you the gift before the 180 days has lapsed because the bankruptcy court cannot seize gifts after your bankruptcy has been finalized.
  1. You can simply not claim the inheritance. You are not by law required to claim an inheritance.

Remember, there is nothing wrong with planning to maximize the benefits of bankruptcy . You can legally do so by planning the timing of an inheritance or using tools to avoid the seizure of assets in bankruptcy. However, it is illegal to hide an inheritance, by not telling the bankruptcy court about it or using illegal means to avoid including it in the bankruptcy estate.  If you plan to receive an inheritance during or after your bankruptcy please discuss with your bankruptcy attorney, how you can protect this asset.