The Six Options for Cars and Other Secured Collateral in Chapter 7 – Is your car worth giving up part of your bankruptcy discharge?

Written by admin on February 15th, 2010

Is your car worth giving up part of your bankruptcy discharge?

Here are the six options available for handling secured collateral in Chapter 7:

1. Surrender – This option is nice if you just want to walk away and owe nothing, but obviously could be a problem for those that want to keep it. Most lenders will repossess the car after discharge if you are not current, but if you are lucky they will never formally demand it or try to pick it up.
My experience is that lenders never formally demand possession they just send out crooked repo men to pick it up. You do not have to give your vehicle to a stranger. Only in smaller counties including Brazoria have I seen them get a court order for possession and sent out the Sheriff or Constable, but in the rare event that they do you do have to surrender the car to a law enforcement officer. How do you know that the tow truck driver is not an impostor with a tow truck? Many of them have felony convictions. Adding insult to injury these people often pretend to be law enforcement using titles like Seregeant or Investigator. They will claim they are investigating a “theft” “civil theft.”. This is a scam on their part. Ask to have the name and telephone number of their supervisor.
They cannot take the car if there is a passenger in it and in Texas they cannot cause a breach of the peace so they cannot break into your garage but they may pick it up from your driveway.
If this does not appeal to you then read the other options!

2. Redeem – Is a great option if you are upside down on a secured personal property. You pay a lump sum equal to the value of the collateral from yourself or anybody or get a loan from Redemption Funding Inc in Sweetwater, Tennessee (423) 337-7572. This works best for upside down loans. The interest rate will be higher, but it’s worth it if you save enough money. The application is on my website at www.sabkr.com/redemption.htm

3. Reaffirm – This choice is bittersweet because you are giving up the discharge of that particular debt in your bankruptcy. Lenders will try to coerce you into this option. They say they require reaffirmations but most do not enforce it. The bankruptcy code does say that if you fail to redeem or reaffirm within a certain time then the automatic stay lifts and they are free to pursue a bankruptcy default clause.

4. Reaffirm and Rescind – You have the right to rescind a reaffirmation agreement anytime before discharge or within 60 days whichever is later. Although the courts have not authoritatively stated whether you are protected if you rescind a reaffirmation it is likely.

5. Reaffirm and Argue to the Judge to not approve the reaffirmation – Is this option ethical? If you do it right I think it is but you need to discuss this carefully with your attorney. If your attorney believes that the reaffirmation poses an undue hardship on you it has to go in front of the judge. Even if you want to reaffirm your attorney is duty bound to not sign off and tell the judge that he or she believes you cannot afford it if that is the case.
If the judge fails to approve it then you are probably protected and can just keep making the payments and ride thru!

6. “Ride Thru” or Keep and pay and not reaffirm – If the lender does not object this is the best option if you are not seriously upside down. You keep up the payments but cannot be sued if you default or the car is totalled. You can walk away from it at any time and all they can do is repossess it. Ford Credit and GMAC/Nuvell and some greedy credit unions will actually repossess your car if you try this. I argue that if the lender accepts payments after the bankruptcy filing they have waived the default caused by your bankruptcy. We will see if I have to ever litigate this issue.

Whichever option you chose you need to discuss this carefully with your attorney. There are a lot of considerations to take into account.

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