If I File for Bankruptcy Can I Keep My Car? (And What About My Home and My Retirement?)

Mette

Filing for bankruptcy can be an overwhelming process that leaves you with many questions and worries. One of your biggest concerns may be surrounding what property and assets you’re able to keep through the bankruptcy process. Your car is an asset that’s essential to daily life, so naturally, you’re concerned about whether you’re able to keep your car.

The good news is that, yes, with a strong bankruptcy lawyer on your side the likelihood of keeping your car is high. The choice is yours – if you can afford and maintain the payments – your contract is not impacted by the bankruptcy.  But, if on the other hand you want to get out of a bad deal, bankruptcy will allow you to surrender the car without ramifications, or sometimes will even allow you to modify the contract terms in a reorganization.  It’s essential to have a bankruptcy attorney who’s familiar with the system to help you navigate the process – beginning before you file for bankruptcy.

How will filing for bankruptcy help me?

Filing for bankruptcy can mean that overdrafts, wage garnishments, car repossessions, and foreclosures will stop. Then credit card debts, payday loans, medical bills, and select income taxes will be eliminated. With the help of a savvy bankruptcy lawyer, you should still be able to keep your car, home, and retirement!

Which type of bankruptcy should I file for?

Determining the most beneficial type of filing for your situation is a crucial first step. Many things play a role in determining this:

  • Do you still owe payments on your car?
  • What is the current market value of your car?
  • Is this vehicle considered a part of your business?
  • Has your car been repossessed?

The answers to these questions will help your bankruptcy lawyer know which type of bankruptcy is right for your circumstances. Sifting through your unique situation with a professional will put you in the best position to keep your car.

What are exemptions, and how will they help me?

An exemption in bankruptcy means that an item will not be sold to pay off debts. There are many ins and outs of exemptions, and each type of bankruptcy has unique exemption options.

A few federal exemptions that may apply to your case and keeping your vehicle are:

  • The Motor Vehicle Exemption – Up to a $4,000 exemption per debtor on the title
  • The Wild Card Exemption – $1,325 exemption per debtor/owner allowed to be used for anything
  • The “Tools of the Trade” Exemption – Up to a $2,525 exemption for business tools if you use your vehicle in a trade

Each exemption has different qualifications and amounts that will be exempt from liquidation.  And exemptions only apply to equity you have on your car.  So, if there are liens on the car, you may not even need to use your exemptions.  Conversely, if your car has been paid off, you may need your full exemption.  But even then, it simply impacts the choice of Chapter you will file, and you may still keep your car.  Your bankruptcy lawyer will be able to determine which exemptions work best and which Chapter is best for your case.

How do I get started?

First things first, get the right bankruptcy lawyer on your side who understands the intricacies of bankruptcy law and will take the time to understand your specific situation.

I like to help people get a fresh financial start and get them the resources they need to stay on a solid financial path, rebuild their confidence, and reduce their stress. If you’re currently struggling with financial difficulties, please know that you don’t have to go through it alone. We offer free consultations to assess your situation and determine the best possible solution for your needs.

Let’s discuss your situation.

Author: Tracy Updike, Esq.

Learn more about Tracy

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