For those of you who have been following this blog, you may recall financial stress.
My best-kept secret was that on April 19, 2011 I declared bankruptcy.
The direct cause-and-effect event that led me there was an “intentional wealth” course that I took back in 2007. When all investments purchased through this group started to fail in 2009, I was told by the CFO to “keep the faith” and “stay positive” — because your mindset effects all things universal.
By the time I declared bankruptcy, I was financially demolished. I had amassed a huge debt (amassed on the recommendation of these “intentional wealth” gurus), and the government put me through every possible level of scrutiny.
A standard first bankruptcy in Canada is typically nine months and includes two mandatory counselling sessions. If you follow all the rules, if are genuinely “poor,” and if your debt is less non-tax related and under $200,000 you are officially relieved of you non-secured debts (typically, credit card debts and line of credit). In this process, you might be asked to meet with your creditors (rare, especially given the growing number of bankruptcies these days) and/or submit yourself to an examination by the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy (OSB).
In my case, I was genuinely poor (no income) and followed all the rules. The creditors did not request a meeting. But I was interviewed by the Superintendent’s office. This interview, to my understanding, is a rare occurrence, especially when none of the creditors came forward with any objections or concerns.
Also, when things were supposed to be wrapping up (in the ninth month, just before Christmas time), I received a call from my trustee, saying that the OSB was opposing my release, scheduled for January 20th. This floored me. I cried for days. I had done all I was supposed to do, I had lived for years with financial stress and uncertainty, and now, once again, the ground was shifting under my feet. And there was nothing I could do about it.
In the end, I talked with a male lawyer friend who referred me to a female lawyer who deals in bankruptcy. She informed me that nine times out of ten, the courts follow the recommendation of the Trustee. She felt it irresponsible to take my money ($4K plus taxes) with those odds stacked against me. That, and my situation was rather extreme. She suspected that the opposition came from the Superintendent, to make an example out of me. I think the Superintendent would rather wring the necks of these “intentional wealth” courses, but can only get their hands on the result-holders such as myself.
So I resigned myself to worst-case scenario: the continuation in bankruptcy for another 12 months. But not silently, not without a word. In consulting the lawyer, she told me the one (most important) thing that the trustee neglected to mention, which was that I have the right to make a statement in court, and argue my defense.
In my sleepless nights, I read and re-read the bankruptcy act. And the more I read it, the more I felt that I should be able to get a judgement in my favour. Yes, in spite of the lawyer’s assessment.
So I prepared my defense, ran through it several times with several people including my mastermind group, modified it, and then filed it with the courts. Again, something I had to figure out for myself.
On February 2 at 12:15 I stood before “Master” McCallum of the BC Supreme Court in Victoria. I heard the trustees submission, and while the trustee’s information was accurate, it was incomplete. You see the process here in Canada is good at figuring out the WHAT, but not the WHY. When it was my turn, I refered to the 6-page document I pre-submitted to the courts (with 17 pages of Appendices), and I read my pre-written 1.5 page conclusion to the court.
After I answered a few of the Master’s probing questions, and after the trustee stated that I would in all likelihood never re-offend (for which I was profoundly grateful), I was granted an immediate discharge, effective immediately.
Over the next few days, I’ll be posting the documentation (including references) of what I presented in court.
In my opinion, trustees do an okay job representing all three parties: the bankrupt, the creditor and the government. But like all human beings, we always do what’s in our own interest first.
My trustee was a good man. I quite liked him as a person. That he neglected to tell me crucial information (that my release would probably be opposed given the scope of my debt, that I could oppose their objection, that I could seek legal council and that I could prepare and present a written statement to the courts) was probably unintentional, not malicious. Given his mastery on the subject, to him it was probably too obvious to mention. Given my newness to the system, to me is was not. I was fortunate that I had a lawyer friend. I was fortunate that I spoke with him (many bankrupts stay silent because of the profound shame that comes with the package). I was fortunate that I can write and argue well. I was fortunate that I have a mastermind team to bounce my documents around with.
But I was left to figure out all this legal stuff by myself.
Closing your eyes and having a good attitude and hoping to hell that your good universal vibes will see that all ends well is akin to begging for disaster. It’s what the CFO of the “intentional wealth” organization recommended I do when the investments started to collapse. And look at where that got me!
It was the bullshit law of attraction that got me into this mess; it will be good-old-fashion ME getting myself out.