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Ask Maverick Your Own Question
Maverick
Maverick, Attorney
Category: Bankruptcy Law
Satisfied Customers: 5767
Experience:  20 years of professional experience
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I am currently involved in a civil case with a junk debt

Customer Question

I am currently involved in a civil case with a junk debt buyer for $7000. It's looking like they will win a judgment against me despite my efforts to prove the debt is past the statute of limitation and also violating Florida rules of procedure. My concern
is the consequences of the judgment. I just got a part time job (after nearly 10 years of unemployment) as a family caregiver. It makes about $500 per month, so I think that is below the amount that can be garnished. My only other asset is my vehicle that
is worth about $3000 - $5000. I absolutely cannot afford to lose it because it is a disability van that I must use for work and my wife. There is a consideration to go bankrupt as I have other debts. What can I do to protect my vehicle from the judgment or
possible future bankruptcy. Is it worth enough to be taken as a non-exempt asset?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Bankruptcy Law
Expert:  Maverick replied 1 year ago.
FYI: If the debt is past the statute of limitations, one thing you can consider doing is appealing the court's erroneous order.
Florida residents may protect up to $1,000 of equity in an automobile pursuant to Florida Statutes. Florida has one of the lowest automobile allowances in the country. The fact that a debtor need his automobile to go to work does not protect the vehicle from creditors to the extent that the debtor’s equity (value less loan amount) exceeds $1,000.
If you file bankruptcy, then you may claim up to $4,000 of personal property as exempt if you do not use the homestead exemption. (Fl. Stat. 222.25.)
So, if you want to exempt $5,000 worth of equity in a vehicle, you will need to file bankruptcy. Otherwise, they will execute on the van, sell it, and refund you only a $1,000 from the proceeds.
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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
If I were to take out a personal loan with my van as collateral would that protect it from seizure after the judgment. While I am considering bankruptcy, there are still issues. I have some debt but maybe not enough to need bankruptcy, plus I do have two active credit cards that I have charged recently and am not in default. I've heard that you can't go bankrupt if you are still using credit cards?
Any other advice on how to protect my vehicle if I don't opt for bankruptcy?
Expert:  Maverick replied 1 year ago.
If I were to take out a personal loan with my van as collateral would that protect it from seizure after the judgment.
1. It may since the equity in the van would drop. But any such transactions are subject to being reviewed and undone under the Uniform Fraudulent Transfers Act. In other words, unless your reason for getting the loan is because you are having a tough time meeting ends on day to day living expenses or medical bills, a creditor may try to trace those loan funds and get them back, say if you gave the money to a relative to hold for a while for the purpose of evading payment on the judgment.
While I am considering bankruptcy, there are still issues. I have some debt but maybe not enough to need bankruptcy, plus I do have two active credit cards that I have charged recently and am not in default. I've heard that you can't go bankrupt if you are still using credit cards?
2. This is not correct. You can still file bankruptcy even if you are current on active credit card balances.
Any other advice on how to protect my vehicle if I don't opt for bankruptcy?
3. See my answer above regarding fraudulent transfers.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
One last question - The vehicle is in my name, but my wife uses it for her business and disability. Does she have any ownership in the vehicle even though her name is ***** ***** the title? Should I add her name to it? She does not share my debts nor will any judgments be against her.
Expert:  Maverick replied 1 year ago.
Vehicle ownership is governed by the name or names on the title.
If you add your her name to it, Florida does protect property owned jointly by a husband and wife from the creditors of either spouse.
This may work since the time and expense to undo the above as a fraudulent transfer may dissuade them from pursuing it further; but they still would have a legal right to challenge your late addition of her name to the tile as merely done to avoid payment on the judgment.