How to Determine the Value of a Car in Bankruptcy Proceedings

By Heather Frances J.D.

Bankruptcy allows debtors to get a fresh financial start by having many of their debts erased, or discharged, when the debtor successfully completes the bankruptcy process. Generally, a debtor must list his assets and their value, including the value of vehicles he owns. Court-appointed trustees typically want a reasonable, reliable valuation method rather than guesswork or a debtor's own estimate.

Book Value

Bankruptcy filers must provide a reasonable estimate of what the value of the car would be worth if they sold the car, so the amount remaining on the car's loan is not necessarily an accurate measure of value for bankruptcy purposes. Debtors can use a National Automobile Dealers Association guide or a Kelley Blue Book guide to obtain for the vehicle, since these values are widely accepted by car dealers. To obtain this value for a particular vehicle, debtors can look up value in a hard copy, which is available at many libraries, or by looking online.

Purchase Offers

Debtors can also determine value by obtaining a purchase offer from a used-car retailer. Since these companies buy vehicles intending to resell them, the value proposed by the company is frequently lower than blue book values. A lower value often benefits the debtor using the value for bankruptcy purposes, so this can be the most advantageous way to determine a vehicle's value.

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