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I am preparing to file a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. Can I use my dogs' vet bills as "extraordinary expenses"?

Lakewood, CA |

I am a teacher, single with no kids. I am not sure that I qualify under the Means Test to file a Chapter 7 BK because of my income. I have three dogs that I love dearly, but I have spent quite a bit on them in vet bills this last year. Fortunately this is unusual and hopefully will not happen again.

Attorney Answers 4


If you are facing a means test issue, hire an attorney. If you really are borderline BK-7, then you CAN afford one.

As to your questions, you can certainly try. However, you need to amortize the amount to determine a monthly average. For example, if your vet bills were $2,400 over the last 12 months, then you would list $200 per month on Schedule J. The legal test for an expense items is "reasonable and necessary." Generally, pet expenses don't get questioned too much unless they are way out of proportion. In your case, based on what you describe, the issue will be whether the expenses are reasonably certain to continue in the future at the amount in question. For example, maybe you have been spending $300 per month, but now the dogs are all good and the expense would likely fall to the regular amount needed for food and check-ups.

Only an attorney experienced in bankruptcy can really help you with your specific circumstances.

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Medical debts are legitimate expenses but not for animals. You can schedule lots of things under "entertainment" and "misc" but those items do not impact the Means Test. You can consult me or any other AVVO lawyer offering a free consultation. Good luck.

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If you are attempting to file your bankruptcy pro se and have a Means Test issue, you're doing yourself a huge disservice. You should consult with an attorney, you may have 707(b) deductions that you are completely missing, in which case your whole Chapter 7 Bankruptcy won't be riding on this question.

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I agree that if you truly are having a means test issue, you should consult with an attorney.

The pet medical bills may be useful, if reasonable, on your Schedule J if you are still expecting on going expenses. (Schedule J is more forward looking)
But based upon the information you provided, medical expenses for pets should not be included in the means test.

You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. Nothing in this response nor any communication shall be deemed to be a guarantee, warranty or prediction of the outcome of any case. This communication does not create an attorney-client relationship nor does it create an attorney-client privilege. Susan Dodds only practices in California. You should consult with an attorney immediately that is familiar with cases in your area. We are a debt relief agency, we help people file for bankruptcy under the bankruptcy code.

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