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Bankruptcy Law Blog

Monday, October 15, 2018

Hidden Treasure: Assets Revealed By Bankruptcy Can Be Surprising

One of the first things you will have to do if you decide to file for bankruptcy is make a list of all of your debts and assets. Sounds simple, right? For most people it is. But every once in awhile we work with a client whose unique assets present something of a challenge. Sometimes, we even help clients discover assets they didn’t even know they had.

Antiques & Collectables

Thanks to television shows like Antiques Roadshow on PBS and American Pickers on the History Channel, people are starting to realize that things they have lying around the house may be more valuable than expected. That box of old toys in the attic might contain a hidden gem, and the old car out back that hasn’t run in decades may be rusty gold.

We help clients who think they might have antiques or collectables that are worth a significant amount of money get their items appraised and sell them to pay off debts.

Untapped Digital Resources

If you have money stored in online accounts with companies like PayPal, Venmo, Ebates, Ibotta, or something similar, you need to disclose such assets to the bankruptcy court. There may be more funds in your accounts than you realize.

There are other digital assets you may be able to tap as well. If you have a social media account with a lot of followers, you could potentially monetize that account. The same goes for domain names that could be sold for a profit.

Some gaming accounts allow you to build up credits that can be traded or sold to others. There is not a lot of case law on this, but a court could order such assets liquidated.  

Forgotten Fortunes

One of the duties of the Alabama State Treasurer is acting as custodian of unclaimed or abandoned assets. Cash, stocks, bonds, insurance benefits, and valuables that have been lost or abandoned by their rightful owners are held by the state for safe keeping for a certain period of time, then the state takes full ownership and the rightful owners are out of luck.

Everyone who lives in the state should periodically check the unclaimed property registry to see if the State Treasurer is holding on to something that rightfully belongs to them. Over the past five years over $125 million has been returned to its rightful owners.  

Unused Benefits

When you think about how much you earned last year, you probably have a certain dollar amount in mind. It is common to think of earnings only in terms of cold hard cash, rather than considering the full value of one’s labor. It may be that you have earned benefits that you are unaware can be treated as assets.

For example, you may have built up vacation or sick days that you can cash out rather than use. You may also be able to tap into your health savings account, or get business expenses you have already paid for reimbursed.

Think Outside The Box

It is beyond cliche to say that you must “think outside the box” when searching for hidden assets, but that is exactly what must be done.

 


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Padgett and Robertson assist clients with Bankruptcy, Personal Bankruptcy, Consumer Bankruptcy, Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, Chapter 13 Bankruptcy and The New Bankruptcy Law in Mobile, Alabama and throughout southern Alabama. Alabama State Bar Association Regulations require the following: "No representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers." 11 U.S.C. 528 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code requires the following: "We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.”



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Alabama State Bar Association Regulations require the following: "No representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers." 11 U.S.C. 528 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code requires the following: "We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.”