Will the bankruptcy Trustee take my dogs or cats?

April 1, 2014

When you file for bankruptcy you need to list all assets, while a pet may seem more like a liability then an asset, you still need to list them on your petition. Your pets typically don’t have a value beyond the sentimental value, but it is possible if it is a prize breed that it may hold more significant value. In Texas you can exempt a house hold pet using the Texas exemption Tex. Prop. Code secs. 42.001(a); 42.002(a)(11) or the federal exemption 11 U.S.C. sec. 522(d)(3). As long as your pet is exempt it is not subject to seizure by the Trustee. In the vast majority of cases a Trustee will not want to attempt to sell a pet to pay off creditors, therefore there is nothing to worry about.

In a chapter 13 case you will need to list your pet but you may also have a budget item for pet care. While most Trustee’s will not take issue with your pet care budget item, it is important to note that they will look at the reasonableness. If you have a large pet care cost the Trustee can object to the confirmation of your plan. This is especially true if your other budget items for food and household items are also high. The court will not make you give up your pet but they may find that it is not reasonable to budget a large amount of money to keep a pet if your creditors are not being properly paid.

Also, note that if you have a budget item for pet care but failed to list any pets then the Trustee may make you amend your schedule to list your pets. This is because the bankruptcy petition is signed under perjury and it does request that you list EVERYTHING that you own.

Additionally if you have livestock, horses or other animals these animals will typically carry a value more than sentimental value. They will need to be listed with a value provided. Again, Texas is good at allowing you to exempt live stock; specifically you can exempt: “2 horses, mules or donkeys plus a saddle, a blanket and bridle for each, 12 head of cattle, 60 head of other livestock, 120 fowl, forage on hand for each animal.”

If you have animals or pets and are considering filing for bankruptcy, contact the experienced attorneys at Fears | Nachawati for a free consultation. Call us at 1.866.705.7584 or send an email to fears@fnlawfirm.com

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