Category Archives: Questions

Frequently Asked Questions category on the bankruptcy and foreclosure defense blog will explain answers to common questions about debtor defense.

Can I Keep My Car if I File a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

Chapter 7 bankruptcy involves the discharge of most, if not all, debts. The code gives power to the trustee to liquidate i.e. sell your assets, and give the proceeds to your creditors; however, depending on the value of your car, it can usually be saved when you file.

Let’s take a look at how you can retain your car in two different situations when you file for Chapter 7.

Scenario 1 — You Own Your Car or Have Outstanding Loan on Car

In case you own your car or have an outstanding loan on the vehicle, you can keep your vehicle if the equity value (after deducting the amount of the lien) is $3,750.00 or less.  That is the value in a car that is exempted or protected under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code for a car that you are currently driving. In considering the value of your vehicle, the trustee will take into account its condition as well as the number of miles you have on it.   If the value is greater than $3,750.00, the trustee may require you to pay him that additional amount, and use the proceeds to pay off your creditors.

If you are financing your car, subtract the value of the car from the amount you owe; as long as the remaining equity is $3,750.00 or less it will be protected under the Bankruptcy Code. If the equity in your car is over $3,750.00 it is possible the trustee will make a claim on your vehicle, and may require you to pay him that amount above.

If you are financing your car, and you want to keep it the car financer will require you to sign a Reaffirmation agreement.  By signing this agreement, you are reaffirming your car loan and agreeing to pay the car loan installments after the Bankruptcy. You are not required to sign a reaffirmation Agreement and you can instead surrender the vehicle and discharge the debt.

This agreement must also be approved by the Court.  For the Court to approve it, you must show that you can afford to make those payments; otherwise, the court can disapprove the agreement and you may lose possession of your car even if the value is under $3,750.00. You also have to maintain your regular payments and keep the car  insure if you want to keep your vehicle. You may want to consult a Cleveland bankruptcy lawyer about your options.

               

Scenario 2 — You Have a Leased Vehicle

If you have a leased car when you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy,  you can continue that lease if you want.  You must sign a form known as the Statement of Intention for Individuals Filing Under Chapter 7 with the Court.  This form must be filed no more than 30 days after filing a petition.   This form should also be signed if you want signed a security agreement for furniture and jewelry and you want to keep those items after filing

The statement of petition tells the trustee what you want to do with the unexpired car lease.

  • You can decide to keep the lease and continue making timely payments until the lease expires.
  • You can reject the lease and let your creditor repossess your car. This is a good option if you have excess mileage or car damage since you will not be responsible for further installment and fees if you reject the lease.

Before filing for a bankruptcy protection, you should contact a qualified attorney. He will help you explore your options so you can keep possession of your car when you file.

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Attorney Eli Tamkin is a Cleveland bankruptcy lawyer.  He has been practicing law since 1989 and in Cleveland Ohio since 1994. Since then, he has dealt with a variety of legal issues, including bankruptcy, real estate, divorce, personal injury, and probate. Many times, answering questions on bankruptcy draws on knowledge of other legal areas as well. His experience in these other areas, as well as in bankruptcy enables him to address your particular needs and to offer you advice that is applicable to your situation.

Can I Rehabilitate My Credit Report after Bankruptcy, and How?

Yes, you can rehabilitate your credit report after bankruptcy. Even though the bankruptcy details remain on your credit report for as much as ten years, you can immediately begin to improve your score after filing for bankruptcy. This is quite important considering the fact that credit companies, including car finances and mortgagors, will examine your credit report. Credit reporting companies generally look at your outstanding debt, your payment history, your length of credit history, and also how much new credit you are seeking; all of these are put together to determine your credit score.

 
The American economy in a sense is paradoxical: While one goes into bankruptcy because he or she has defaulted in paying off debts, one of the fastest means of rehabilitating your credit report is to spend even more and establish a better credit history. It is believed that your power to spend more after bankruptcy translates into increase earning power to show you are more credit worthy and responsible.

 
But before applying for new credit cards, try to purchase within your means, paying off your bills in full at the end of every month; the essential thing is to improve your repayment habit. Paying off debts in full when they are due, and making sure your debt is as low as possible when compared to your available credit, will enhance your ability to earn more, and that will put you in a better light when it’s time to borrow money. In other words, always try to spend within your means before you borrow more money. Adopting this approach when you assume more debt will help to rehabilitate credit report as you will make your payments in full and on time; and eventually, if this process is continued and improved upon, your credit report will become much better.

 
Talk to a professional bankruptcy attorney or credit counsel to properly guide you in your quest to rehabilitate and improve on your credit rating. Going into bankruptcy is not an end in itself, but an opportunity to make a fresh start, and will need to make wise financial short and long term decisions.

 
Summary
The blog explains that it is possible to rehabilitate and improve on the credit report. It also highlights the steps necessary to be taken to achieve this over time.

 

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Attorney Eli Tamkin is a Cleveland bankruptcy lawyer.  He has been practicing law since 1989 and in Cleveland Ohio since 1994. Since then, he has dealt with a variety of legal issues, including bankruptcy, real estate, divorce, personal injury, and probate. Many times, answering questions on bankruptcy draws on knowledge of other legal areas as well. His experience in these other areas, as well as in bankruptcy enables him to address your particular needs and to offer you advice that is applicable to your situation.

Can the Trustee Take My Tax Refund?

Possibly, the trustee can take your tax refund according to the rules in Chapter 7 bankruptcy. This depends on whether the tax refund is protected under the Bankruptcy law by what are called “exemptions.” The trustee is like the lawyer for the creditors you who own the debt you are trying to discharge in your bankruptcy. His job, as their lawyer, is to try to get as much money from your assets so that he can to pay off the debts you are discharging; however, the law protects most of your non-luxurious assets in what are called “exemptions.” Exemptions are like pockets of money that the law allows you to keep, and which the trustee cannot take. These exemptions include $450.00 for cash, $1,225.00 for a wild card that can be applied across the board to any asset of you choice, child credits exemption and earned income exemptions. You can “stack” or add exemptions together to pay any single debt. Your attorney will try to protect your tax refund under one or more of these exemptions so you can keep as much of your refund as possible.

 

However, if your refund is above what is protected by these exemptions, the trustee may still be able to take the difference. To protect your tax refund from being collected by the trustee, wait to file until you collect it before filing for bankruptcy. In other words, once bankruptcy is filed, tax refunds automatically become liable for collection by the trustee for settling of your debts. Tax refunds which are from the prior year are included in the total property owned by you and are considered part of the assets to be used to service the debts. However, as stated above, you may be able to protect you refund or a large portion based on these exemptions.
There are different ways a trustee can attach a refund. In some cases, the refund is sent directly to you, and you will be expected to hand over the check to the trustee when you receive it. In other cases, the trustee notifies the Internal Revenue Service of your bankruptcy condition to intercept your tax refund; so, when it’s time to receive the tax refund, it goes directly into the trustee.
The best way to go about protecting your tax refund from being taken by the trustee is to talk to a Bankruptcy attorney before you file for Bankruptcy.
Summary
The blog explains that the trustee is authorized to take your tax refund unless it can be protected under exemption. Exemptions are like pockets of assets that the law allows you to keep which are protected from the trustee and from your creditors. It also advices you in such to seek the help of an attorney to better understand the whole process before you file a bankruptcy.

 

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Attorney Eli Tamkin is a Cleveland bankruptcy lawyer.  He has been practicing law since 1989 and in Cleveland Ohio since 1994. Since then, he has dealt with a variety of legal issues, including bankruptcy, real estate, divorce, personal injury, and probate. Many times, answering questions on bankruptcy draws on knowledge of other legal areas as well. His experience in these other areas, as well as in bankruptcy enables him to address your particular needs and to offer you advice that is applicable to your situation.

Can I Disharge my Mortgage Note in a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy and Still Keep my Home?

Generally, yes you may if your loan is modified in mediation; but you should consult an attorney about your particular situation.  In many instances the bank will approve a loan modification even though you have already discharged your debts, including your mortgage note, in a bankruptcy; however, as will be discussed next, you will nevertheless be liable for that note if you sign a reaffirmation agreement with the bank during your Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.

Summary

While a homeowner generally can proceed to mediation after discharging the mortgage note in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, there are exceptions to this rule, and one should consult with a bankruptcy attorney.

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Attorney Eli Tamkin is a Cleveland bankruptcy lawyer.  He has been practicing law since 1989 and in Cleveland Ohio since 1994. Since then, he has dealt with a variety of legal issues, including bankruptcy, real estate, divorce, personal injury, and probate. Many times, answering questions on bankruptcy draws on knowledge of other legal areas as well. His experience in these other areas, as well as in bankruptcy enables him to address your particular needs and to offer you advice that is applicable to your situation.

Can I Mediate My Foreclosure Case if a Sheriff Sale Has Already Been Set?

Yes.  The Court may approve your request to mediate even though a sheriff sale has been set.  While the mediation will not stop the sale, that sale will not be approved or “confirmed” by the Court.  The Court will first wait to see what the outcome is of the mediation; ie., whether a deal can be worked out with the bank.

Nevertheless, you should still check the court’s docket periodically because at times the court can make a mistake and still confirm the sale. This has happened to me on occasion and I have had to file motions to vacate the sale in emergency hearings.

Summary

While mediation will stop the foreclosure process, it will not stop a sheriff sale; that sale goes forward as scheduled, but the court will generally not confirm the sale and will wait to see the outcome of the mediation.

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Attorney Eli Tamkin is a Cleveland bankruptcy lawyer.  He has been practicing law since 1989 and in Cleveland Ohio since 1994. Since then, he has dealt with a variety of legal issues, including bankruptcy, real estate, divorce, personal injury, and probate. Many times, answering questions on bankruptcy draws on knowledge of other legal areas as well. His experience in these other areas, as well as in bankruptcy enables him to address your particular needs and to offer you advice that is applicable to your situation.

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