How may a person minimize the amount of money or property that must be turned over to the trustee in a chapter 7 case?

In a chapter 7 case the person filing is required to turn over to the trustee only the nonexempt money or property that he or she possessed at the time the case was filed. Many nonexempt assets are liquid in nature and tend to vary in size or amount from day to day. It is wise, therefore, to engage in some estate planning so as to minimize the value or amount of these liquid assets on the day and hour that the chapter 7 case is filed. The most common nonexempt liquid assets, and the assets that the trustee will be most likely to look for, include the following:

  1.  cash,
  2. bank accounts,
  3. prepaid rent,
  4. landlord and utility deposits,
  5. accrued earnings and benefits,
  6. tax refunds, and
  7. sporting goods.

It is usually advantageous to take steps to insure that the value of each of these assets is as low as possible on the day and hour that the chapter 7 case is filed. By doing this the person will not be cheating or acting illegally; he or she will simply be using the law to his or her advantage, much the same as a person who takes advantage of the tax laws by selling property at the appropriate time.

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