The bankruptcy petition is a 40 to 60 page document submitted at the time of your bankruptcy filing. The petition provides the US Trustees and bankruptcy court with a lot of information. Specifically, you will list all of your income and expenses, all of your debt, your co-debtors, and some other financial information. You will also need to list all of your property so that it can be exempted and protected from your creditors. Property is listed on a document called "Schedule B".
Schedule B is broken down into more specific sections. In each section, you must list the appropriate property, where it is located, and an estimated current value. The Trustee will review this list at your Meeting of Creditors to verify you do not have any un-exempt property which could be distributed to your creditors. So, what type of property must you list?
Most importantly, you must list any real estate that you own, including your home and any rental properties. You must also list any burial plots or undeveloped pieces of land. The value of your real estate for bankruptcy purposes is what you would likely sell the property for in the current real estate market. It will sometimes be necessary to obtain an appraisal in order to list the value accurately. It should be noted that you CANNOT use assessed tax values to determine the value of your home. It is very important to list all real estate, as you will be asked under oath whether all of your real estate is listed. Failure to disclose all of your real estate could lead to charges of perjury.
A second category of property it is important to list is all of your vehicles. This includes not only vehicles you own outright with a title, but also vehicles with payments or leased vehicles. You must also disclose all other types of vehicles, such as motorcycles, tractors, and boats. To determine the value of a car, we will usually use its Kelly Blue Book value. Boats and tractor values can usually be determined with some online research.
Personal property is also listed in Schedule B. This includes furniture, household items, electronics, clothes, jewelry, hobby equipment, and collectibles. There is no need to worry about losing any of this property, because while it must be listed, it can also be exempted from your creditors, and thus there is no way you will lose any of it. Listing it is mostly a formality, but necessary.
Finally, you must list all financial, retirement, and business accounts. This includes, but is not limited to, retirement accounts (such as 401(k)s, pensions, and IRAs), checking, savings, and credit unions accounts, stocks or interest in a business, and life insurance policies. You must also list any potential lawsuits, inheritances, and insurance or legal claims. These things are not always typically thought of as "property". But, for bankruptcy purposes they must be thought of as such.
Your attorney will review Schedule B with you, line-by-line, helping you to list all of your property, and its value. Property is then exempted and protected from your creditors in Schedule C. When in doubt as whether or not to tell your bankruptcy attorney about a piece of property... tell them. Better safe than sorry. The more accurate you can be, the better.
Contact us if you have any questions about protecting and keeping your property in a bankruptcy. I will be happy to discuss your situation in a free consultation.