BANKRUPTCY AND YOUR AUTOMOBILE LOAN OBLIGATION

Many debtors contemplating Chapter 7 or 13 Bankruptcy do not want to list their automobile finance company as a creditor out of fear of losing their automobile. This should not be a concern for most people.

The good news is that more often than not, with the help of the law firm of Pitts & Burns, your vehicle will not be affected by any Bankruptcy filing. So long as you are current with your monthly payments, your finance company cannot and will not take your car in the Federal District of Rhode Island.

When you file for Bankruptcy you must list all of your creditors, including your finance company, even if you are current on your payments. You are obligated to name all creditors in your Bankruptcy, but there is a process for effectively removing them so that they are not affected by your Bankruptcy Discharge. This is done by reaffirming that obligation. Whether reaffirming that obligation is in your best interest requires a thorough analysis of your financial situation by Attorney Jack Pitts.

Chapter 7      

If you are seeking Chapter 7 bankruptcy relief, then you will file as part of your petition, a Statement of Intention. In that statement you are alerting your finance company that while they were named in your Bankruptcy that it is your intention to reaffirm that obligation. Therefore, when the financer receives notice of your Bankruptcy they will also know that it is your desire to keep your automobile and remain current on your obligation to their company. Once the reaffirmation agreement is executed and filed with the Court, the finance company will continue to report your timely payments to the credit bureaus.            You can also use that same Statement of Intentions to state that you want to give up your automobile. Debtors might want to do this for several reasons, usually though, because they are behind in their payments and have no practical way of catching up. The other reasons include that a Debtor owes more than the car is worth, or, they want to use the Bankruptcy opportunity to walk away from monthly payments that are too high. The filing of the Bankruptcy is an excellent time to regroup and not only discharge your overwhelming credit card debt, but also to reduce your living expenses that may have gotten out of hand, i.e. $500.00 per month auto payments.

 

Chapter 13

Debtors file for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy relief for many reasons. The most common cause is due to a loss of income, i.e., job termination, layed off, death, loss of a spouse, etc.. Many Debtors even after they regain their past income status, still cannot get out of the hole they found themselves in due to the rigidity of the demanding and obnoxious creditors. Creditors do not want to wait for their money and continue to add high interest and penalties making it impossible to ever get caught up.

A Chapter 13 puts you back in control of your finances. The Bankruptcy Court will allow you to pay creditors what you can reasonably afford (as determined by a number of methods); and for the first time, with a light of hope at the end of the tunnel.  After speaking with an experienced attorney at Pitts & Burns, you will know if Chapter 13 is the correct avenue for you.

Debtors can use a Chapter 13 filing for a number of good reasons as it pertains to their automobile obligations. The most popular reason is that they are threatened with repossession of their automobile due to a default in their regular payments and they cannot afford to lose their mode of transportation nor can they pay the arrearage off in one lump sum.  Chapter 13 will enable Debtors to pay back the arrearage due the finance company over time, usually 3 to 5 years. This way the threat of losing your automobile or getting into further debt is no longer necessary.

If you are current on your automobile, then you can continue paying your finance company outside of the bankruptcy and just concentrate on your other debt. There is no need to reaffirm your automobile finance obligation in a chapter 13.

You can also surrender your vehicle to the finance company in your Chapter 13 if you feel that the obligation is not worth continuing with.

A Chapter 13 also offers other very attractive options for the Debtor with a “bad” automobile loan. A Debtor can restructure their loan obligation so that you only pay the current fair market value of the vehicle and not what your current balance is. This is especially attractive to people who had to roll in their last car’s indebtedness into the purchase of their present car. For example, many people end up with their current car being worth $10,000.00, but owe $25,000.00.  Why pay back more than your car is worth if you do not have to. This option is not available to everyone, so you should discuss that with the law firm of Pitts & Burns who have been practicing law for over thirty years.  If you have owned your automobile for more than 910 days then you should be considering this option. You may also be able to reduce the interest rate you are paying on your current obligation.

Attorney Jack D. Pitts of Pitts & Burns is ready and able to help you.