What is my Bankruptcy Estate?

When you file for bankruptcy, it creates something called your “bankruptcy estate”, governed by 11 USC 541 of the Bankruptcy Code. Basically, this is everything that you own or have an interest in. Some of it is obvious, for example your house is a part of your bankruptcy estate (even if you have a mortgage on it). Some of it is not so obvious but is still a part of the bankruptcy estate, like what you inherit when someone dies, what you get as part of a divorce settlement, or what you acquire as a beneficiary under a death benefit plan or life insurance policy within 180 days after the petition date.

It is the job of the bankruptcy trustee to review your bankruptcy schedules in order to determine what is in your bankruptcy estate. On your schedules you must list all of your assets and all of your liabilities. You must also answer a series of questions on your statement of financial affairs which further assists in determining the extent of your bankruptcy estate. Your job is to answer all of the questions honestly and completely. You cannot leave anything out or it could be a basis of bankruptcy fraud, which should be taken very seriously. Just because something is part of your bankruptcy estate does not mean that you will lose what you own. Your bankruptcy attorney helps to legally protect what you own by the bankruptcy exemptions that are available to you. 

Carol O'Connor Cadiz
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Attorney & Owner at O'Connor Cadiz Law: Injury & Accidents, Disability Insurance.