When someone files for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, their property becomes part of the bankruptcy estate. Property includes real property which is a legal term for land and homes. It also includes all personal property such as furniture, clothing, vehicles and even your pets. Personal property is not always something you can touch. For example, you may have a claim against someone who injured you in a car accident. The claim is technically property that is part of your estate.
You have a duty to provide a complete and accurate list of all property you own and their values. Once you have established the value, your attorney can assess whether the property can be protected through the use of exemptions. Exemptions are wonderful tools that help you keep your things.
Once your case is filed, a trustee is appointed to oversee your estate. If you file a Chapter 7 here in Columbus, your trustee may be any of the people on this list. The Chapter 7 trustee’s job is to assess whether there are any assets he or she can sell to pay off some of your creditors. The trustee is only interested in items that are either not protected by exemptions or have value that is above the threshold. Therefore, accurate valuation is important. The more accurate the value, the more predictable the process.
If the Chapter 7 trustee does not find any assets, he or she will file something called a ““no asset report” or a “report of no distribution.” This is simply a formal statement that there is nothing of value above the exemption amounts. If the trustee finds assets that are above the exemption amounts and it makes sense to pursue them, he or she will file a “notice of assets.” Creditors will receive notice if there are assets and may file a proof of claim in order to receive payment.