Schedule A is the first document in the group of documents called the “Schedules of Assets and Liabilities” that you must file with the court in a bankruptcy case. The Schedule A form can be downloaded from the United States Courts website or from a clerk of the bankruptcy court. As each Schedule greatly varies and each is extremely important to a successful bankruptcy, it is crucial to examine Schedule A closely.
Schedule A deals exclusively with what is known as real property. Real property is a legal term for everything that is not personal property. In other words, this includes houses and land, as opposed to a dining room table and a computer. By listing all of your real property the bankruptcy court, the bankruptcy trustee, and your creditors can get a good picture of your finances.
First Column - Description and Location of Property
In this first column, you must specifically describe and given the location of the real property. This generally means that you must give the physical address of the property, such as 123 Elm Street, Elmville, Elmland 55555. If the real property that you own does not have a physical address, such as barren land, you may need to describe the property in other ways, such as by physical markers or cross streets. For each item of real property that you own, make sure to have a description and location of the property in this first column.
Second Column - Nature of Debtor’s Interest in Property
This question requires a bit more legal savvy. Although you can technically own real property in different ways, such as only during your life (life estate), most real property is owned in “fee simple.” This merely means that you own all of the present and future interests in the land. However, this column may be more complicated if you own what is known as a contingent interest in real property. This may arise if you are the beneficiary of a will or trust which bequeaths real property to you. In that case, you may need to list your interest as, for example, contingent. If you have complex or fractional interests in land, you should consult with a bankruptcy attorney.
Third Column - Husband, Wife, Joint, or Community
This column may or may not apply to you as a debtor. If you are filing a bankruptcy jointly with your spouse, and only one of you owns the real property, you need to denote this by writing in Husband or “H,” or Wife or “W.” You may also jointly own the property with another individual, such as joint tenants or tenants in common. In that case, you must list your interest as a joint interest. Finally, if you equally own real property with your spouse, and you live in a state that has community property laws, you can list the property as a community asset. Again, if you have complex ownership structures or have questions about how you own property, you should see an attorney.
Fourth Column - Current Value of Debtor’s Interest in Property
The fourth column is fairly straightforward and asks you to give a value for your ownership of the real property. If you solely own the real property, this is an easy task. You will have to do some math if you only own a fractional interest in the property. Please note that the value listed int his column should have no deductions for anything owed on the property (such as a mortgage) or for your claims of exemption in any equity in the property.
Fifth Column - Amount of Secured Claim
Finally, the last column requires that you list any secured claims on the property. This refers to any mortgages, loans, liens, deeds of trust, or similar instruments. Thus, if you took out a loan to purchase your house and you still owe, for example, $200,000 to the lender at the time you file for bankruptcy, the lender has a secured claim on your property for at least $200,000.