I went to a consultation with a bankruptcy attorney because I'm considering filing chapter 7 due to credit card debt. He asked me about all of the appliances in my house and about electronics such as televisions. This was very surprising to me.
Is this a routine question? Could these items be seized?
The only items I myself have purchased is the a/c unit and fridge. Both were with a credit card but this was several years ago. My adult children have purchased everything else.
Personal Injury Lawyer
Yes this is a routine question. Schedule B of the voluntary chapter 7 bankruptcy petition requires that you give the present value of all items that you own. Appliances and electrical gizmos are valued at their "used replacement cost" or what you would get for them in a yard sale or garage sale or perhaps ebay in consideration of their present age and condition. All of this must be disclosed.
However, on Schedule C, we apply the available exemptions. Household goods, cars and other items have various federal and/or state exemptions. So, yes, you need to disclose everything, and then discuss with your attorney prior to filing whether it is all exempt.
Bankruptcy requires review of your entire financial situation including all debts, income and assets. I highly recommend that you retain an experienced bankruptcy attorney in your jurisdiction to guide you through the complexities of bankruptcy law and procedure.
There is a link below to a bankruptcy information page.
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This answer is provided for informational purposes only. Actual legal advice can only be provided in an office consultation by an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction, with experience in the area of law in which your concern lies.
Typically, Trustees in the Southern District of Florida are not interested in administering to household goods. The costs of administering to furniture items involve moving the goods, storing them, insuring them and then having to pay someone to sell the items.
Still, if your home is full of high-quality electronics and appliances, and there were other assets that would become part of the bankruptcy estate, there is no guaranty. Some Trustees are more aggressive than others.
Your question indicates that your children have "purchased everything else" other than the AC unit and fridge. Who bought the items is of no significance whatsoever. What matters is whether you are the owner of the items, and it seems from your question that you are the owner of the house and its content.
The attorney you spoke with was absolutely correct to make the inquiry. Perhaps he should have explained more about what happens to assets that are not exempted and the practical issue relating to the Trustee administering to the assets.
You must list everyone that you owe and everything that you own. It does not matter whether there are co-debtors, whether you want to keep the account, or who purchased the products. Every state has a law about protecting property. If you property is below the limit of what you can protect, then it is protected and you can keep it (as long as you disclose it). If not, then you need to evaluate the fair market value and what it will cost the trustee to sell the property. No one wants to administer property unless it will get money for the unsecured creditors.
Disclose everything and be realistic about value. You may want to check on the value that people are actually paying for those items.
[This communication is intended as general information and not specific legal advice, and this communication does not create an attorney-client relationship.]