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Your pets are an irreplaceable part of your family. Like any other family member, pets can lead to unexpected bills. Maybe your cat has allergies and needs an expensive prescription diet food, or maybe your dog needed surgery, medications, and follow-up visits. It would be unthinkable to deny your pets the care they need, but paying off related debts can be a challenge. If your pets’ needs have led to thousands of dollars in debt that you can’t afford, consider talking to a bankruptcy lawyer about your options.

Keeping Your Pets Through Bankruptcy

Pets are family, but in the eyes of the law, they’re property. This means if you file for bankruptcy, your pets become part of your bankruptcy estate. But don’t panic—in almost every case, the trustee won’t bother selling pets to pay debts. They lack substantial market value, and they’re usually covered by exemptions anyway. There are always exceptions, however. If you have a private zoo in your backyard with a couple of expensive tigers, they will probably be rehomed.

Listing Your Pet-Related Expenses

In most cases, the average person’s pet expenses will be well within the IRS standard for everyday expenses. If your pets have unusually high vet bills, your lawyer will list these expenses in the “special circumstances” area of the means test. You may need to explain why your pet-related expenses are unusually high.

Reducing Your Pet-Related Expenses

The court might not consider all pet-related expenses to be reasonable and necessary. Expect objections if you list expenses like a dog walking service, puppy day care, pet-sitting services, or frequent, professional grooming. Expensive pet food may be considered unreasonable if it isn’t medically necessary. Before you file a bankruptcy petition, look for ways to reduce these expenses. Learn how to groom your pet at home, walk your dog yourself, and ask a friend or relative to provide occasional pet-sitting.

The bankruptcy lawyers at Cutler & Associates, Ltd. in Schaumburg are well-versed with complex cases. We work closely with each client to produce the best possible outcome.