Why does the bankruptcy trustee want me to list and value my clothing? Is he going to take the shirt off of my back?

No, he’s not. Your clothing is exempt.

But you still need to list your personal assets and value them. If you don’t, it can be bad.

When you file bankruptcy, your bankruptcy estate is created. The bankruptcy estate is all of your real and personal property, like your clothing, your car, and your home. It is the bankruptcy trustee’s job to review the estate and take any assets of value and sell them for the benefit of your creditors. (In a chapter 7 the trustee sells them. In a chapter 13 the trustee requires that you pay their value to your creditors over a 5 year plan).

Most of your property is exempt, or protected. For example, in Utah, state law protects the following from creditors (and trustees) , Utah Code 78B-5-505:

78B-5-505 Property exempt from execution.
(1)
(a) An individual is entitled to exemption of the following property:

(viii)
(A) one:
(I) clothes washer and dryer;
(II) refrigerator;
(III) freezer;
(IV) stove;
(V) microwave oven; and
(VI) sewing machine;
(B) all carpets in use;
(C) provisions sufficient for 12 months actually provided for individual or family use;
(D) all wearing apparel of every individual and dependent, not including jewelry or furs

So no, the trustee cannot take the shirt off of your back. Now if your shirt is made of mink and studded with diamonds, there may be an issue, but I’m betting that you’re not that stylish.

If you do not list your assets, you are committing fraud. It’s usually not actionable fraud, because forgetting to list your clothing is a “de minimus” mistake (literally “of minimum” or “a trifle”). But the trustee is going to ask you to amend your paperwork and list your personal assets, like the shirt on your back. And, most of the trustees in Utah will look at your attorney and say, “Counsel, either you’ve failed to do due diligence on this case, or else your client is a nudist borrowing a friend’s clothing for the meeting. Please amend the schedules accordingly.” It is funny when it happens, and it’s happened to all of us, but it still makes you look sloppy.