Listing Pets As Assets in Bankruptcy Cases

What do a Great Dane, a college visit, and a Yorkie have to do with bankruptcy?  No – it’s not about how expensive college and vet care have become (although that would be a good answer!)

My screen saver in my office shows family pictures.  When the picture of our Great Dane pops up, the dog owners always seem to ask “is that your dog?”  Until now I would say it was my daughter’s dog.  However, when my daughter went out of state for a couple of days for a college visit, I had to take over the dog walking duties.  It dawned on me that I am going to be at least the temporary custodian of a Great Dane, and I will have to stop joking about how it’s not my dog.

I often have to explain to the client that in bankruptcy cases we have to list pets as an asset and assign a dollar value to them so that they can exempt their pet and keep it.  While my daughter was away I came across this article by Conner Law Offices in Boston, and I was inspired to write this post.

In a bankruptcy filing, we have a legal obligation to list all of your assets.  Listing your pet on your bankruptcy filing is scary and difficult.  Learn the difference between your value and the bankruptcy court’s value.  When filing for bankruptcy, the court will require you to assign a monetary value to your pet.  But don’t worry – you don’t have to sell it.  You just have to come up with a reasonable monetary value and list it as an asset.  Then we will exempt it and you get to keep your pet without any worries.

The value for a “used pet” is pretty low, so this isn’t usually difficult from an academic perspective.  The difficulty is getting the client to realize the difference between the real value of their pet to them (priceless!), and the cold, hard monetary value to the bankruptcy court.

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