this article on assessing property value in a bankruptcy provides an interesting perspective on how debtors generally like to overvalue their own assets when filing bankruptcy. Remember, when filing bankruptcy in Washington State you only need to list the garage sale value of your assets, not what you actually think they are worth brand new. The reasoning here is that if the bankruptcy trustee administering your bankruptcy case were to sell an asset, they would most likely only to get garage sale value for an item at an auction. Generally, most assets are protected under bankruptcy exemptions provided under State or Federal bankruptcy law. Before you file your bankruptcy case, you should check with qualified bankruptcy attorney to see if your assets will be protected in a bankruptcy.
If you do not know the value of a particular asset the best course of action is to seek out a professional opinion. In the case of a home you can ask for a brokers priced opinion based on other homes in your area. Additionally you can use your county assessment and www.zillow.com, however those resources are not always accurate. In my practice, the hardest items to value are usually something to do with intellectual property. Intellectual property can be the rights to music, a book, or some other creation in which you have the rights to license your creation to others. Musicians and authors can make money from selling these rights and usually generate a stream of income from these royalties. With that said, these assets are hard to value and I have sought out experts to give a value as well as contacted trustee’s to get their opinion. In my experience the trustee’s have a hard time selling such items so usually the debtors end up keeping the assets. If you don’t have enough exemptions to keep an asset you can always make a deal with your bankruptcy trustee to pay them the liquidation value over a reasonable amount of time.