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Do I Have To List All My Assets in a Bankruptcy?

A couple questions bankruptcy attorneys often hear are “Do I have to list all my assets? What about those that are not worth any money?” The strict answer to this question is “Yes, you must list all of your assets.” The realistic answer is, “You must list most of your assets.”

What Are Assets?

An asset is anything that is considered of value. Technically, if something has no real value it is not an asset. However, most items have some intrinsic value if for nothing else but scrap. Therefore, things like old furniture that you could not sell at a yard sale still may have some value when considered as an asset.

How Do I Value My Assets?

What generally happens when people file a bankruptcy is that they are asked to estimate the value of their assets. If you have old, broken furniture, family photos and torn or soiled linens, it is quite obvious that no one else will ever want these things and that it would be impossible to sell them. However, they are still considered “assets” for the purpose of valuing your entire estate, so it is important to include these items in your general estimate of value. The rule of thumb is to estimate market or “yard sale” value of everything that could be sold and add a small sum for all your other items that have no real monetary value. Practically speaking, a judge is not going to waste time in a bankruptcy by worrying about a few odds and ends. People get in trouble in bankruptcy court when they knowingly undervalue their assets. If you have an old black-and-white television with rabbit ears, for example, it is unlikely that putting a $5 value on this set will raise any eyebrows. However, if you have a brand-new flat screen 50-inch monitor that you purchased new three months ago for $5,000 and you value it at $100, you are probably going to find that the court will reject this valuation.

Can I Get Help Valuing My Assets?

There are several resources you can use when attempting to place fair market value on your assets. For vehicles, the Kelly Blue Book is a great resource. For furniture and personal items, both the bankruptcy courts and the IRS publish schedules that reflect the fair market value often placed on such things. Real estate must usually be valued by an appraiser. The bankruptcy attorneys at the Oswalt Law Group in Phoenix can also help. Contact us today for more information.

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