Can I file for Bankruptcy without losing my house or car? How long will it take to get done and how do I go about getting it started?
Hi. The answers to your questions depend on a few facts that you haven't shared. First, what state are you in? Next, do you have house and car payments? Also, how much equity do you have in the house and car? Last, do you qualify for a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 (this is based upon income and debt). A Chapter 7 could be done in months, while a Chapter 13 will require you to make monthly payments for up to 5 years.
I have a house and car payment. married with 2 children.
I work at a Chevy dealership as a GM technician and we get paid Flat-rate with no guarantee on our pay. Lately we have not been getting alot of work so my pay Checks have been 25-35 hrs. I don't have much equity in my house, my loan amount is about $178,000, my house was just reassed by the town and went from $109,000 to $217,000.
I am losing $1000 - $1500 a month. Trying to get out of dealership type work and get a job with a steady Paycheck. Been working on cars for over 20 Yrs, 10+ were at dealerships and I am $100 % trained for GM.
I live in NJ. Wife works for a Government contractor for Fort Monmouth.
Hi again. Thanks for the additional info.
The first thing you have to understand is that the only way to keep collateral such as your house and car is to continue to pay the loans. This is true even if you file for bankruptcy because a secured creditor (i.e. a creditor whose loan is secured with collateral) can generally always repossess/foreclose if the underlying loan is not paid. Therefore, if your only real debts are the house and car payments, and you want to get out of paying them while keeping the house and car, then filing for bankruptcy probably doesn’t make sense in your case
Next, if you file for bankruptcy and continue to pay your loans, the house and car may still be taken by the bankruptcy trustee and sold if there is a substantial amount of equity that can be used to pay your unsecured creditors (i.e. a creditor who loan is not secured with collateral … a good example is a credit card company). In the case of your house, it doesn’t sound like there is any equity, so your house is probably secure if you can continue paying the mortgage.
You didn’t mention whether you have equity in your car, but the law will allow you to exempt (i.e. keep) up to about $3k of equity in a motor vehicle. Here’s an example to help understand what it means: Let’s say your car is worth $10k and you owe $7k on the loan. This means you have $3k of equity, but since you can exempt $3k in a motor vehicle, it cannot be sold for the purposes of paying off unsecured creditors. But, let’s say the vehicle is worth $15k instead of $10k. That means you have $8k of equity. Since you can only exempt $3k, that means $5k can be used to repay your unsecured creditors. The bankruptcy trustee would likely sell you car, pay off the car loan, pay you the $3k, then use the remainder to pay the unsecured creditors. Does that make sense?
I can’t say for sure from where I’m sitting, but it sounds like you may qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If so, then you can be discharged in a few months. If you make above average income for your geographic region, then you will have to file a Chapter 13, which mean making monthly payments for up to 5 years. A Chapter 13 does have advantages, however, in that it kind of eliminates the paragraph I wrote above about equity, exemptions, etc. In a Chapter 13, you will be making monthly payments to your unsecured creditors, and in return you can keep assets (such as the equity in your car).
As you can see, bankruptcy is complicated. If you think it may be right for you, then I suggest you consult with a local attorney who can review all of your financial circumstances and the details of your situation, and then advise you as to whether it does make sense, what Chapter to file under, and the length of time it will take. Good luck!
Have I satisfactorily addressed your concerns? If not, then please feel free to ask for clarification.
DISCLAIMER: Please understand that the complexities of most legal problems cannot be adequately addressed in this setting, and that I am only licensed to practice law in the state of Maryland. Accordingly, you acknowledge (1) that we have not formed an attorney-client relationship, and (2) that my post is general information only and not specific legal advice.
I also have about $20k in Credit Card Debt will filing bankruptcy eliminate those debts. I am doing what I can to find a job with a steady pay check. Even If it means leaving dealership type work , Maybe fleet maintenance. If I can get rid of my Credit card debt then It would help alot.
Yes, filing for bankruptcy will eliminate the credit card debt (in fact, that’s what bankruptcy is for … eliminating unsecured debt).
Would it be better for me to file for Chapter 7 or 13?
Where to I find a good lawyer in my area?
A Chapter 7 eliminates the debt right away. A Chapter 13 requires you to make monthly payments for up to 5 years. Most people prefer a Chapter 7 because it gets things over with quickly, and you can start fresh faster. However, if you have assets that you want to keep then a Chapter 13 may be right for you. In addition, you may not have a choice as to which chapter to file under since it depends on things like your income and the amount of debt you have. If you don’t make enough to make monthly payments then a Chapter 13 won’t be possible. On the other hand, if you do make enough money, then you may be stuck with a Chapter 13 because of the law. Hiring a local attorney who can review your complete financial picture would be best. You can find a good local attorney by using the New Jersey State Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral Service, found HERE.
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