Bankruptcy And Car Loans

This article will help address the concept of bankruptcy and car loans. One of the myths of bankruptcy is that you can’t keep a car when filing a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. Another myth is that old car loans are not addressed by bankruptcy. There is good news regarding both of these situations.

Protecting The Equity In Your Car

When you file bankruptcy, the primary question you face regarding your car is related to equity. Equity is the difference between the fair market value of your car and the loan balance. If your car is worth $10,000 and you have a loan balance of $7,000, you have $3,000 in equity. Equity is an asset in bankruptcy and you must protect or “exempt” it by using the appropriate bankruptcy code exemption.

Generally, there are two exemptions you can apply to vehicle equity. First, there is a specific exemption under N.C.G.S. Sec. 1C-1601(a)(3). This allows for an exemption of $3,500 in equity in a vehicle. In the analysis above, claiming that exemption would protect your car. If you had additional equity above $3,500, you could also elect to use the Miscellaneous Property “Wild Card” exemption under N.C.G.S. Sec. 1C-1601(a)(2), which gives you another $5,000 to protect any property you like.

Keeping Your Car In Bankruptcy

If you want to keep your car in bankruptcy, after protecting any equity you have, you will then need to reaffirm your car loan. The general rule is if you want to keep the property, you need the keep the loan that comes with it. This is easy to do. When you file your bankruptcy, you simply elect to reaffirm the debt. Your vehicle lender will prepare a reaffirmation agreement at the same terms you currently have. You will sign and file this document as part of your bankruptcy process. As a result, your payments will resume and you can keep your car.

Surrendering Your Car In Bankruptcy

One upside to the analysis of bankruptcy and car loans is that you can also choose to surrender your car. You may choose to do this if you have negative equity or simply know the car needs repairs and you don’t want to keep it. By surrendering the property in bankruptcy, you are protected from your vehicle lender pursuing you for any loss they take on the sale of the vehicle.

Vehicle Repossessions In Bankruptcy

If you have prior vehicle repossessions, bankruptcy will address that lingering debt as well. If you’re filing bankruptcy and old car loans are still showing on your credit report, they will be discharged as part of the bankruptcy. This eliminates your exposure on these items.

Speak With A Charlotte Bankruptcy Attorney

If you are considering filing bankruptcy, it’s important that you speak with a Charlotte bankruptcy attorney. The call is free and you will come away with a much better understanding of your options. You can reach us at 704.749.7747 or click to request a FREE CASE EVALUATION, and we will be in touch shortly.