The Bankruptcy Boogey Man

It’s a fear that plagues and incites the worries of almost every bankruptcy client – what will “they” take from me if I file? The “they” is the trustee. Whether it’s a chapter 7 or chapter 13 bankruptcy– people fear some black robed death eater holding a scythe will come knocking on their front door and up turn tables and rip open mattresses looking for your buried treasure. The reality, as you might guess, is that the trustees don’t exist to ravage through your personal belongings and unmentionables. What is true?  When you file, you must list all of your assets and liabilities.  You must list the refrigerator in your kitchen, the microwave, your jewelry, any art, your bed, etc. It doesn’t have to be an exhaustive list but you must be honest. The corollary is that in bankruptcy, most if not all of these personal assets are exempt from creditors and the trustee – that means they cannot sell them to pay off your debts. There are some items you cannot exempt so it’s best to seek out competent legal advice to maximize your exemptions. I promise you, no one is coming to your door to hunt down Aunt Bella’s 12 gauge shotgun you received as an heirloom  40 years ago – but I promise you this – if you don’t disclose it to your attorney and fail to list it on your bankruptcy schedules – a black robed death eater will be the least of your worries.

Bennett Cunningham is a Bankruptcy Attorney licensed in Texas and is a former Investigative Reporter for the CBS Television Station in Dallas. Mr. Cunningham has garnered 7 Regional Emmy Awards, including the Best Investigative Reporter in Texas 2 years in a row, as well as several National Awards for his exposés into the mismanagement of taxpayer dollars and government waste.

This blog is not meant to give you legal advice. If you need to seek legal advice, you should consult a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction.

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