In most cases, when you file Chapter 7 bankruptcy you have the option to either keep your vehicle or surrender it to the lender. If your vehicle is paid off, you will likely be able to keep it after filing for bankruptcy- as long as its value is below your state’s vehicle inspection amount.
If you are still making payments on the vehicle, you have two options: (1) you can return the car to the lender and assume no liability, or (2) you can keep the vehicle and continue making payments on it.
If you choose to keep your vehicle, you will have to prove to the court that it is in your best interest to do so. Probably the easiest way to keep a vehicle that you still owe money on during in bankruptcy is through redemption.
With redemption, you pay the trustee the current value of the vehicle in one lump sum. This is a beneficial option for those who are underwater, because the filer only has to pay the current value of the car, even if the loan amount is greater.
For example, if you still owe $10,000 on your car loan, but the vehicle is only worth $6,000, if you pay $6,000 to redeem the car, you will not be responsible for the remaining loan balance.
If you are current on your payments, but cannot afford to redeem your vehicle, you can continue to make payments by entering into a reaffirmation agreement. The lender will then send you an agreement that may be similar to the original loan contract.
At this time, with the help of an experienced bankruptcy attorney, you may be able to negotiate a better deal. The lender knows that you have the option to surrender the car and assume zero liability. This usually gives them an incentive to at least get some money out of the car.
A hearing will then be scheduled to determine whether or not the reaffirmation agreement is in your best interest. In making the decision, the judge will consider your income, the value of the car and the amount you still owe on the loan. This is important, because the whole point of filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy is to eliminate the burden of debt.
If you are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.