Riverside Chapter 7 Trustee Howard Grobstein is a CPA and a “Car Guy”. If you visit his website at Grobstein Teeple Financial Services, there is a small paragraph that talks about Mr. Grobstein. The first line of his personal bio reads “Huge fan of classic and muscle cars.” Trustee Grobstein uses this knowledge of automobiles in his practice as Chapter 7 Trustee. The Trustee especially knows older and classic vehicles which the values may be deceiving to the un-informed.
After you file a case for a client, do not be surprised if you receive an email from the trustee’s staff asking for photographs of certain vehicles listed in the petition. Mr. Grobstein wants to get an idea of what the car looks like if the value in question is disputable. Also he wants to see what the car listed looks like as the condition of a vehicle will determine its value.
The takeaway here is if your client tells you he has old vehicles, ask what condition the vehicles are in. We had a Trustee named Mr. Robert Goodrich that would ask the debtors on the record if the vehicles had been shown at any car shows or used in any car rally’s. In the automobile world a 1969 Ford Mustang could be worth over $10,000 or worth $10 depending on the condition.
Protect yourself and protect your client’s property, especially the property that has wheels. At the initial bankruptcy intake meeting, Ask the client for more information before you or your bankruptcy staff place the value of an auto in the petition at Schedule “B”. Chapter 7 Trustee Howard Grobstein and the other trustees have the power and authority to inspect that vehicle and determine if the value assigned is a fair market value.