can i file bankruptcy and keep my car

How Can I File Bankruptcy And Keep My Car?

Easily, that’s how. Whether you can file bankruptcy and keep your car is a question of the fair market value of the car at the time of the bankruptcy filing. That value is compared with any outstanding balance on the vehicle at the time. The difference between the fair market value and the outstanding loan balance is the equity. For example:

Vehicle: 2016 Toyota Camry
Fair Market Value: $15,500
Outstanding Loan: $13,000
Equity: $2,000

In the example above, we have a vehicle that is essentially worth $2,000 for bankruptcy purposes. The reason is that if you were to sell the vehicle, you would only end up with $2,000 after the loan was paid. For the purposes of your bankruptcy filing, this is a $2,000 asset.

Using Exemptions To Protect Your Car

If you’re wondering “How can I file bankruptcy and keep my car?” the federal bankruptcy code provides exemptions for each person filing bankruptcy which usually allow this. Some exemptions are specific to the type of property, while others can be applied to any property you choose. Each person filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy is entitled to use a vehicle exemption of up to $3,500, per N.C.G.S. Sec. 1C-1601(a)(3). Under the scenario above, you can keep the vehicle in a Chapter 7 filing.

What If My Equity Exceeds The Vehicle Exemption?

If the above example resulted in $4,000 of equity, you would exceed the exemption allowed under N.C.G.S. Sec. 1C-1601(a)(3) by $500. In that case, you could use some of the $5,000 exemption allowed under N.C.G.S. Sec. 1C-1601(a)(2). This is commonly known as the Wild Card exemption, and if it has not been applied to protect your primary residence, you can use it to protect any other property you own.

What If My Vehicle Does Not Have A Loan?

If your vehicle does not have a loan, the equation is still the same. In that case, the fair market value of your vehicle is the same as the equity. That amount would need to be protected or ‘exempted’ by using the NC bankruptcy exemptions. If the fair market value of your vehicle exceeds both the NC motor vehicle exemption and the NC wild card exemption, you may have ‘exposed’ equity, which would have to be addressed in the bankruptcy with the bankruptcy trustee. This is discussed below.

Addressing ‘Exposed’ Equity In Chapter 7

If you have additional equity which cannot be exempted with your NC bankruptcy exemptions, your attorney will negotiate an arrangement with the trustee by which you pay some or all of that exposed equity to the court. Typically, in order to avoid a sale of the property, which is costly and time consuming, the trustee will be flexible in reaching an agreement for a discounted amount. For example, if you have $2,500 of equity which cannot be exempted, you will list it as such on your bankruptcy filing.

The trustee assigned to the case will negotiate with our firm to have you pay an agreed upon amount to the trustee over time. A reasonable agreement in this scenario would be a payment of $1,500 (payments of $250 each) due in equal installments over the next six months. When the payments are complete, you will receive your discharge in bankruptcy and of course this means you get to keep your car. While this is not the best answer to the question “How can I file bankruptcy and keep my car?” it does provide a solution where there’s too much equity for bankruptcy purposes.

Speak With A Charlotte Bankruptcy Attorney Today

We’re here to answer the question “How can I file bankruptcy and keep my car?” Hopefully this article helped. Filing Chapter 7 can be a powerful relief, but certain rules must be followed to insure you get the result you desire. Your Charlotte bankruptcy attorney can identify the challenges associated with your case prior to filing, and discuss them with you. Once you have an agreed upon plan of action, you can file your case with the confidence that you’ll get the result you desire. If you’d like to speak with an attorney today about Chapter 7, call us at 704.749.7747 or click for a FREE CASE EVALUATION and we will call you today. We know you have choices. We hope you choose to Recover With Us.