Can the trustee really make me turnover documents or property?
No, the trustee cannot MAKE you turn them over. However, if you filed bankruptcy to receive a discharge, which most people do, then you will want to turnover items requested by the trustee. Failure to cooperate with the trustee can result in dismissal of your case or denial of your discharge.
What does denial of discharge mean?
It means that your debt is not dissolved. It means that you essential (in most cases) hired an attorney, took a credit counseling class, attended a 341 meeting, and a hit to your credit all for nothing. You are back as square 1 with the same debt you start with and are now out of even more money for the fees and costs associated with the filing of the bankruptcy.
Can’t I just tell the trustee that I did not get a tax refund? Or that I do not have any money at the time of filing? How will they know if I have cash in my wallet?
Simple. You are going to tell them. Can you lie to them? Sure, if you want to commit perjury. All of the bankruptcies schedules, statements, and related documents are signed by you under penalty of perjury as being true and accurate. You are also sworn in under penalty of perjury at your 341 meeting where you will be asked if your schedules are accurate and whether you valued your items fairly and honestly. So by lying to the trustee or intentionally listing incorrect information on your schedules, you are risking prosecution for a perjury, which is a federal crime. For obvious reasons, I do NOT recommend this. If you are concerned about property you have being an issue in your bankruptcy, talk to your attorney BEFORE the case is filed. Your attorney can advice you on whether or not bankruptcy is the best option and whether there are ways to legally protect your property.