In bankruptcy, Oregon and Washington debtors are required to list all their assets and give a corresponding estimated value of his or her property. This is an easy task when the asset has an easily fixed cash value, like a stock, owed wages, or cash money. Household and personal items, vehicles, and even real estate are often more challenging.

Most Oregon bankruptcy lawyers advise their clients to value household and personal items at garage sale or Craig’s List prices. The reason for this is that if the asset were sold through the bankruptcy process, it would be sold at a liquidation price, usually at auction. A Garage sale more or less approximates this value. The idea is what would the property sell for if it were dumped on the open market without any attempt to market it to a particular buyer.

Most people overestimate the value of their household goods. For instance, many used household items really have little or no resale value. Ever try to sell clothes or furniture? I couldn’t get Goodwill to take a desk from me for free! Your computer main mean the world to you, but the resale value for them after they are a year old is pretty much dimes on the dollar. If you are unsure of how to value an item, the internet is a terrific resource. Sites like Ebay and Craigslist can give good examples of what your property is worth to the general public.

A good resource to obtain vehicle pricing information is to visit Kelly Blue Book on-line or the NADA motor vehicle price guide on-line at There resources are accepted price guides and are a good starting point in valuing your vehicle.

Real estate can be more difficult to determine. Most home and landowners have a good understanding of what their property is worth. If the value of the real property is an issue in the bankruptcy case, it will likely be in the debtor’s best interest to have the property appraised by a professional real estate appraiser. I would not rely on tax values because in cities like Portland and Salem, they rarely, if ever, provide a decent estimate of what the home would actually fetch on the open market. Obtaining both the tax value and the Zillow value is a good starting point.

If you have are filing bankruptcy in Portland or Salem and have any questions about the value of your real or personal property, make sure they get answered prior to the filing of our case.