When you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you’ll have to complete and file something called Schedule A – Real Property. On this form, you list all of the real property you own on the date you file for bankruptcy.
(To learn about the other forms you must file, see Completing the Bankruptcy Forms.)
How to Get Schedule A?
You can find the most recent version of Schedule A on the U.S. Court’s website at www.uscourts.gov. To learn more about getting the official and other forms, see The Bankruptcy Forms: Getting Started.
What Is Real Property?
Real property—land and things permanently attached to land—includes more than just a house. It can also include unimproved land, vacation cabins, condominiums, duplexes, rental property, business property, mobile home park spaces, agricultural land, airplane hangars, and any other buildings permanently attached to land.
You may own real estate even if you can’t walk on it, live on it, or get income from it. This might be true, for example, if:
- You own real estate solely because you are married to a spouse who owns real estate and you live in a community property state.
- Someone else lives on property that you are entitled to receive in the future under a trust agreement.
Description and Location of Property
In the first column of Schedule A, list the description of your property (for example, “home” or “apartment building” or “farm). Then list the location, which usually is a street address.
Nature of Debtor’s Interest in Property
In the second column, list the type of legal interest you have in each piece of real property. The most common type of interest – outright ownership—is called fee simple. You own the property as fee simple even if you have a mortgage as long as you have the right to sell the property. Other types of ownership interests include life estates, future interests, lienholder interests, contingent interests, holder of an easement, power of appointment, and beneficial ownership under a real estate contract. To learn more, see Common Types of Real Property Ownership.
If you are leasing the property, do not list it on this form. You list leases on Schedule G – Executory Contracts and Leases.
Husband, Wife, Joint, or Community?
The third column of Schedule A only applies if you are married. For each piece of property, state whether the husband owns the property (H), the wife owns the property (W), the husband and wife own the property jointly (J), or the property is community property (C).
To learn more about property ownership among spouses, see Separate and Community Property During Marriage: Who Owns What?
If you are part of a same-sex married couple, how the court will treat your union, and how you should complete the forms will vary by district. It would be very wise to consult with a bankruptcy attorney familiar with these issues.
Current Value of Debtor’s Interest in Property
In the fourth column of Schedule A, you provide the court with the actual value of your real estate ownership interest. Do not subtract your mortgage or the value of any other lien against the property.
There are many ways to value your property. If the real estate is your home, you can get an estimate from websites such as www.homevalues.com, www.zillow.com, www.homeradar.com, and http://list.realestate.yahoo.com/re/homevalues. You can also get a letter from a real estate broker with an opinion about your property’s value, a real estate appraisal, or information from a multiple listing service. If you suspect that the value of the property may be at issue, consult with a local bankruptcy attorney as to what type of evidence will best sway your local court.
If you own the property with someone else who is not joining you in your bankruptcy, list only your ownership share. And if your ownership interest is one of the unusual types, like a life estate, the value of that interest will have to be set by a real estate appraiser.
Amount of Secured Claim
In the fourth column of Schedule A, you list the amount of all mortgages, deeds of trust, home equity loans, liens (judgment liens, mechanic’s liens, materialman’s liens, tax liens, or the like) that are claimed against the property.
Totaling the Value of Your Real Property
At the bottom of Schedule A, provide the total value of all of your real estate.
To learn about the other forms you must file, see Completing the Bankruptcy Forms.
This article provides general information only. There are many legal issues involved and important decisions to be made when filing for bankruptcy. You must understand the entire bankruptcy process, learn about the applicable federal and state laws, and determine how those laws will affect your particular situation before you complete the bankruptcy forms. If you want to file bankruptcy without a lawyer, use a good do-it-yourself book like Nolo's How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy to ensure you make well informed decisions about your bankruptcy case.