If my girlfriend files for bankruptcy, can the trustee taker her engagement ring?

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If my girlfriend files for bankruptcy, can the trustee taker her engagement ring?

My girlfriend has about $50,000 in medical bill debt. She plans to file for bankruptcy. If I propose to her and buy her an engagement ring( costing $6,000) prior to her filing for bankruptcy, would she have to give it up in the bankruptcy process?

Asked on June 6, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Colorado

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You area wise man to think about this prior to purchasing the ring and giving it to her.  This question can be viewed on several levels.  First, let me explain that Colorado does not give you the option of using the Federal Exemptions under the Federal Bankruptcy Code.  You have to use the Colorado exemptions.  Now, under Colorado law the ring would be considered jewelry and jewelry & "articles of adornment" are exempt up to $2,000 (that is a cumulative amount).  Now, if you gave her a ring under 2 grand would it be considered hers before the marriage?  In other words, some of the circumstances that determine if an engagement ring has to be returned in a break up include where you live, how you received the engagement ring, and who broke the engagement and may be relevant here.  Once could argue that the gift is conditional upon marriage - as it is in New York - and so if you break up you have to give it back.  I think that it would be best to give her a "token" ring at this point in time and wait until the rest of the dust settles.  Good luck.


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