When you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you're required to disclose your income, assets, debts, and transactions on a series of forms. On Schedule A/B: Property you'll list everything you own, including all your real estate, money in the bank, clothing, furniture, boats, and farm supplies. If you own property "jointly" or with someone else, you must also explain your ownership share.
In this article, you'll learn the following:
Find out more about completing bankruptcy forms.
Most people start by making an asset list before transferring it to the Schedule A/B: Property form. It's best to describe large items like cars, televisions, couches, and beds separately. You can group dinnerware, kitchen appliances, bedding and linens, gardening tools, and other small items together.
If you want to streamline the process, consider using the Schedule A/B: Property categories when making your list, or even print out a copy of the bankruptcy form and write directly on it. Being organized in this way can help speed up the process.
You'll find the categories below in the "What Should I Include on the Bankruptcy Schedule A/B: Property Form" section and the forms on the U.S. Courts bankruptcy form webpage.
The answer is relatively straightforward—everything you own. We've listed the categories you'll find on the Schedule A/B: Property form below, along with brief descriptions of the types of things you'd include:
Residence, Building, Land, or Other Real Estate. If it includes a building or land, list it here. For instance, you'd disclose your home, rental or investment property, land, manufactured or mobile home, and timeshare.
Vehicles. Include all vehicles or motorcycles you own or lease, driven by you or someone else, regardless of whether they're registered. You'll also include boats, planes, motor homes, snowmobiles, and accessories, such as trailers.
Personal and Household Items. Most of what you own will probably go into this category. Here's what you'll list:
Remember, you can group smaller items. However, your groupings will often depend on the bankruptcy exemption you use to protect your property.
For instance, small groupings won't be problematic if you can protect all items regardless of value. However, suppose the exemption limits an item's value to, for instance, a maximum of $500 per item. In that case, you'd want to list higher-value items separately.
Financial Assets. Here's where you'll disclose cash, checking and savings accounts, bonds, mutual funds, interest in a stock, an LLC or partnership, annuities, retirement accounts, IRAs, and more.
Business-Related Property. You'll list business-related property if you're a sole proprietor, an independent contractor, or if you own equipment used in your employment. If you have another type of business, the business itself likely owns the business-related property. In that case, you'd list your ownership interest in the company in Part 4 instead.
Farm and Commercial Fishing-Related Property. Not many people use this category. Those who are commercial farmers or fishers will know what to list and should be seeking a bankruptcy lawyer's help.
All Other Property. Although it's unlikely, you could own property that didn't fit into one of the other categories. If so, list it here.
Learn about small businesses in bankruptcy.
The Schedule A/B: Property form instructions explain what you'll include in each section. And with questions covering over 40 different property categories, you'll have told the court about everything you own when you finish Schedule A/B.
The form doesn't explain what will happen to the listed property, and you might find you don't understand some of the form's trickier terms. We address the terminology below, but you'll need to talk with a bankruptcy lawyer about the consequences of a bankruptcy filing.
Real estate or "real property" includes any land you own and buildings on that land. For bankruptcy purposes, real estate also includes property such as a manufactured home or timeshare.
You'll list all real property you own on Schedule A/B, even if you're still paying for it. You'd list the mortgage loan on Schedule D: Creditors Who Hold Claims Secured by Property.
If you don't own real property, check "No" to the first question, "Do you own or have any legal or equitable interest in any residence, building, land, or similar property?" Otherwise, check "Yes" and list the address or legal description of the property.
Here's some extra help for the remaining questions.
The court will want to know whether you own a duplex, a single-family home, or something else, so check the box best describing your property. Use the "Other" space for unusual situations, such as if you own the mineral or timber rights but not the property itself.
In this section, you'll tell the court if you own the property with someone else. You might use this if you and your spouse own a home together, but your spouse doesn't file. Or perhaps you own property jointly with siblings.
Sometimes a property is in foreclosure or needs significant repairs when you file for bankruptcy. You'll use the space provided to tell the court any additional information you believe it needs to know.
List the amount you could sell the property for in today's market given the property's current condition.
List your share of the property's current market value. If the property is worth $120,000, but you have a 50% interest in the property, you would list $60,000. Learn more about valuing your real estate in bankruptcy.
You'll explain how you hold property ownership on the deed. For example, if your property interest is a "fee simple," you can transfer it freely. If you own property with someone else, your interest might be "joint tenancy" or a "tenancy by the entirety," depending upon the state.
Personal property is everything other than real estate. Each of the remaining questions asks for information about specific types of personal property, such as business inventory, vehicles, and jewelry.
If you don't own anything in a category, check the box marked "No." If you have the type of property asked about, check "Yes," describe the property, and indicate the current replacement value or what it would cost to buy the item, given its age and condition.
Remember to include only the value of the portion you own. For instance, if you and your brother each own a 50% interest in a jet ski worth $20,000, you'd list its value at $10,000, not the entire $20,000.
The good news is that you'll likely get to keep property important to you. Many people who file for bankruptcy can protect everything they own. But you must take steps to keep your property.
You'll start by reviewing your state's "exemption" laws. Exemption laws tell you what you can protect. Next, you'll list your exempt property and the exemption law on Schedule C: The Property You Claim as Exempt.
The Chapter 7 trustee sells nonexempt property and distributes the funds to your creditors. However, the Chapter 7 trustee isn't interested in depriving you of beloved possessions and might work with you by agreeing to take exempt property you don't want or letting you pay to keep the nonexempt property. Many will give you a discount because selling it to you saves on sales costs.
Example. Suppose you own a piano worth $2,500 that belonged to your grandmother. You don't want to give it up, but it isn't exempt in your state. But your used car worth about $3,000 is exempt. The trustee might agree to take your car instead of the piano. Or, you could sell the car and use the money to "buy back" your piano.
Explore more of the bankruptcy filing process.
In Chapter 13, the trustee doesn't sell property, so you don't need to worry about losing assets you can't protect with an exemption. However, you don't get to keep more property in Chapter 13 than in Chapter 7.
Chapter 13 filers must pay the value of their nonexempt property to creditors through the Chapter 13 repayment plan. This rule ensures that creditors benefit equally in both Chapters 7 and 13.
Although keeping nonexempt property is a valuable Chapter 13 benefit, expect your monthly plan payment to be high if you have a lot of nonexempt property equity. Learn about calculating a Chapter 13 plan.
If you're hoping the bankruptcy trustee will turn a blind eye to a low property valuation, think again. Bankruptcy law gives bankruptcy trustees an incentive to maximize money paid to creditors by paying them a percentage of what creditors receive. Learn more about how bankruptcy trustees get paid.
When you complete Schedule A/B: Property and other bankruptcy forms, you must be thorough and accurate. If the trustee believes you tried to hide property by not disclosing it and did so with the intent to deceive your creditors and the court, your whole bankruptcy case could be in jeopardy.
The consequences? You might not receive a bankruptcy discharge, the order that wipes out qualifying debt. Or if found guilty of fraud, the bankruptcy court could assess up to a $250,000 fine, 20 years in prison, or both. Find out what happens when the bankruptcy trustee objects to your discharge.
You can amend the bankruptcy form if the trustee believes you made an innocent mistake. But don't assume mistakes will go unquestioned. The trustee will review your paperwork carefully, looking for other problems.
If you left important property off Schedule A/B, particularly if you're worried the trustee thinks you did so purposefully, consider consulting with an experienced bankruptcy attorney. An attorney familiar with the trustees in your area can explain your options and what to expect going forward.
Bankruptcy is essentially a qualification process. The laws provide instructions for completing a 50- to 60-page bankruptcy petition, and because the rules apply to every case, you can't skip a step. We want to help.
Below is the bankruptcy form for this topic and other resources we think you'll enjoy. For more easy-to-understand articles, go to TheBankruptcySite.
More Bankruptcy Information
Bankruptcy Forms and Document Checklist
More You Might Like
We wholeheartedly encourage research and learning, but online articles can't address all bankruptcy issues or the facts of your case. The best way to protect your assets in bankruptcy is by hiring a local bankruptcy lawyer.