How Do Animals Fare in Foreclosure and Bankruptcy in Indiana?

December 8, 2011 10:20 pm Published by

As you may imagine, since I lecture on bankruptcy around the country, write books on how Indiana bankruptcy law works, and write all these Bankruptcy in Indiana articles, I’m interested in language and always looking for ways to express important ideas. 

There’s stray dogone phrase that has come into the language recently, that I wish would go away – “foreclosure pets”. With all of us Anderson, Bloomington, Indianapolis, and Columbus bankruptcy lawyers doing all we can to help stop foreclosure, we know that animals are often left behind when a home is foreclosed. 

The sad thing of it is, as a debt consolidation lawyer, I’m often seeing people who are at a low point in their lives. I’m no psychologist, but, after 25 years of listening to all sorts of human stories, I know that, when people are able to keep their pets with them when they’re forced to move because of foreclosure, the pets help the people deal with the crises in their lives.

Bankruptcy itself, of course, relates to income, assets, and debt.  How are animals viewed under Indiana bankruptcy law?  Are they considered “property”? That is a question that actually arises quite frequently in the Zuckerberg bankruptcy law offices. Since I helped create the exemptions portion of the new bankruptcy laws of Indiana, I’m in a unique position to answer that question.

First of all, even if you owe money to others, the law allows you to keep certain kinds of property, with those assets called “exemptions” and ruled off-limits to creditors. While in certain other states, debtors may choose between the federal list of exemptions and those of their state, in Indiana all debtors must use only the Indiana exemptions.  Those include a homestead exemption, a secured debt exemption, a public benefits exemptions, and a health aids exemption. There is no specific exemption for pets.

Under Chapter 13 bankruptcy law in Indiana, which is a debt repayment plan, all your expenses need to be listed.  If there’s a disproportionately large expense for a pet or pets, those expenses might not be allowed by the bankruptcy court.  Still, over the many years I’ve been a debt consolidation lawyer offering Indiana bankruptcy help, it’s been very rare for debtors to lose pets by being forced to sell those pets to satisfy debts.

While it’s a common myth that by filing bankruptcy in Indiana, you’ll lose assets, nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is….most people who file bankruptcy don’t lose anything!


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This post was written by Mark Zuckerberg

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