Protecting Your Assets
At the Bend, Oregon law office of Milly Whatley, P.C., we have found that a main concern for bankruptcy filers, particularly those filing Chapter 7, is whether they will be able to keep assets such as their home and car if they file for bankruptcy. While these are important questions, it is equally important to consider other assets that may be at risk if you enter bankruptcy without careful planning and professional advice.
Identifying and Valuing Assets
The first step in asset protection is to identify your assets. These include not only your home, car, and bank accounts but also your business, tools of the trade, personal injury claim, inheritances, tax refunds, and other money owed to you. We understand all the legal intricacies and complexities and can answer important questions regarding which assets may have value to the bankruptcy trustee assigned to your case.
Next we must determine the liquidation value of your assets. Depending on the asset, this may be as simple as conducting an online search or as complicated as seeking an opinion from a business appraiser or other expert. Once a reliable value is established, we consider whether liens (such as home mortgages or car loans) reduce or eliminate your equity in the property.
The law provides exemptions on real estate, automobiles, clothing, jewelry, household goods, animals, wages, pensions, public assistance, tools of the trade, domestic support payments, insurance and more. Exemptions protect your property in bankruptcy, so that you can keep property that is essential for a fresh start in life. Many of these exemptions are subject to monetary limits, and you should have an experienced bankruptcy attorney analyze your situation to determine what assets are exempt and non-exempt.
Developing a Strategy
What happens if your equity in an asset exceeds the allowable exemption? What happens if the law does not provide an exemption for some of your assets? If the equity is significant, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee will seize the asset and sell it to get money to pay to your creditors. You cannot solve this problem by giving away your assets or putting another person’s name on the title. An experienced bankruptcy attorney can help you develop a legitimate strategy for dealing with your non-exempt assets. For some people the best solution is a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. Assets are never seized by a Chapter 13 trustee.
Seek Experienced Legal Representation
Analyzing your assets is not as easy as it may seem, and an experienced lawyer is needed to protect your assets from being lost in bankruptcy. If you are concerned that your home, car, or other assets may be threatened in a bankruptcy, fill out our initial questionnaire and supplemental questionnaire (if self-employed) and schedule a time to come talk to us. Attorney Milly Whatley will meet with you personally, let you know what assets may be at risk, and help you devise strategies to keep your assets while obtaining a discharge of your debts. Bankruptcy is a valuable tool to help individuals and businesses get back on their feet, but it must be done thoughtfully and with careful planning in order to be done right. In Central Oregon, contact Milly Whatley, P.C. for assistance.