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What Constitutes an Asset for Purposes of a Bankruptcy Petition?

Businessman points at Asset Management caption

If you’ve begun the initial stages of filing for bankruptcy, you may feel a bit flummoxed by a request for you to list all your assets. Perhaps you’re thinking, “What assets? I can’t even pay my bills!” Perhaps you’re concerned that, by listing a treasured asset in your bankruptcy petition, you run a risk of the court selling that asset to satisfy your creditors. Finding an experienced bankruptcy attorney will make the process of determining a complete list of all your assets, as well as protecting those items that are personally most important to you from being liquidated, much easier.

What qualifies as an asset?

When compiling a list of assets, try to think as broadly as you can about what you own, or might soon own. For example, your clothes, your pets, and even the items in your kitchen cabinets count as assets (though you might not need to individually itemize them all). Your car counts as an asset, even if you’re still paying off an auto loan. In addition to the tangible items you own, “liquid” assets must also be included, such as any stocks or bonds you own, the contents of checking accounts, retirement accounts, or life insurance policies with cash values. If you expect to receive an inheritance, a tax return, or a bonus check from your employer, you must include those items among your assets, as well; these are known as “future interests” and count as assets, even if your ownership or possession is a long way off. There are many other types of assets that should be included in a bankruptcy petition, and an attorney can help you determine which ones you own and must include.

An incomplete asset list can result in penalties

The list of assets you submit with your bankruptcy petition is one of the most important components of the petition, and it’s crucial that you get it right the first time. If one of your assets does not appear on the list you produce to the bankruptcy court, but the trustee nevertheless later discovers that it exists (which is more likely than you may think), you will be barred from exempting that asset from your bankruptcy. Hiring an attorney to prepare your petition means that you’ll have someone to help you make sure your list of assets is complete, and to help ensure that items with a great deal of personal significance can be exempted from liquidation.

If you are considering filing for bankruptcy in New York and want to consult with knowledgeable and experienced legal counsel before taking this important step, contact the Hudson Valley bankruptcy attorneys at Rusk, Wadlin, Heppner & Martuscello for a consultation, at their offices in Marlboro at 845-236-4411, or their Kingston offices, at 845-331-4100.

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