You never know just how a client hears your advice, until you hear yourself quoted back to yourself as the reason for a client doing something stupid. In my case, I’m unclear about whether the message received was really as reported, but it’s made me think about my choice of words.
I was asked in the initial consultation if gifts of money from the debtor’s parents in the past year presented “a problem”. No, I replied, thinking that such gifts don’t change the analysis, or the expected outcome of the case. The client now claims that my words were a license to fail to disclose the gifts. Huh?
For some clients, it is clear that full and complete disclosure is emotionally very hard. The fearful and the stressed somehow are simply sure that telling the whole truth imperils the bankruptcy, when just the opposite is true. Just as sunshine is the best disinfectant, disclosure in the bankruptcy paper work is the best insurance for a good outcome.
So, I will be looking for new phrases that will penetrate the understanding of those disinclined to hear what I’m trying to convey and reiterating that the client is the one ultimately responsible, under penalty of perjury, for the completeness of the schedules.