When I ask a bankruptcy client to make me a list of their assets, the response I normally get is a blank stare and a laugh, followed by, “If I had assets I wouldn’t be in your office.”
It is a common misconception that assets must have a high value. are simply all the property that you own. That includes every form of property, not only real estate but personal property as well. All forms of assets must be disclosed when you file for bankruptcy. The clothes on your back, assets that someone is holding for you, and assets that are out of the country all need to be listed. That account to which your aging parent added your name must be disclosed. You know that time-share you have not used in 10 years? Yes, it must be disclosed because it is something you own.
Assets include bicycles, books, cars, trucks, motorcycles, scooters, cemetery plots, cremation certificates, clothing, jewelry, coin collections, computers, electronics, furniture, insurance policies, stamp collections, pets – yes, your cats and dogs – and art on the walls.
Assets also include future rights, such as accounts receivable or potential income tax refunds and intangible things such as business goodwill, the right to sue someone, or stock options. Again, all assets must be disclosed during the bankruptcy process. People are afraid to disclose the things they own, fearing they may lose everything. Relax! Your bankruptcy attorney has ways to save you as much as the law allows in your state. In California, bankruptcy law is very generous concerning property exemptions.
For the smooth processing of your bankruptcy, it is better to err on the side of disclosing more than less. If you list all your assets and get them exempted, they will remain yours. If you’re over the limit allowed by law, there are options available to you but you need to work with an experienced bankruptcy attorney to ensure that your rights are respected.