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arlington bankruptcy lawyerWhile there are a number of reasons why people consider bankruptcy, they usually involve large debts and financial difficulties that affect a person's ability to meet their financial obligations. Unfortunately, the non-payment of debts can lead to additional difficulties, such as a potential repossession of a vehicle if a person is unable to make payments on an auto loan. If you are struggling to make your car payments, you may be wondering if bankruptcy can help you keep your car. Your ability to avoid a repossession or recover a vehicle that has been repossessed will depend on several factors, including the type of bankruptcy you file, the value of your car, and the amount you owe.

Can Bankruptcy Prevent a Repossession?

There are two different types of bankruptcy, and it is important to understand repossessions and vehicle loans will be treated in each of these options. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, also known as a liquidation bankruptcy, some of your assets may be sold off to repay your creditors, and your debts may then be discharged. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, also known as a reorganization bankruptcy, you create a repayment plan to repay your creditors over time. This repayment plan will last for several years, and once it is completed, the unsecured debts that still remain will be discharged.

If you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the repossession process will be put on hold while your case is pending. Texas law allows one vehicle to be exempt from liquidation during bankruptcy for every member of your family with a driver's license. However, if you still owe money on your auto loan, defaulting on that loan or discharging it during bankruptcy will result in the lender repossessing your car. If you want to keep your car, you will most likely need to reaffirm the debt with the creditor, which means that you agree to continue making payments on the loan. If you do not have the financial resources to make up any missed payments, you may be unable to keep the vehicle.

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parker county bankruptcy lawyerIf you are considering bankruptcy, you might be wondering what will happen to your home. While bankruptcy will allow you to discharge, or eliminate, most debts, your home mortgage is a loan that is secured by the equity you have in your home. In other words, the lender uses your home as collateral for the loan. If you fall behind on your payments or otherwise default on the loan, the lender can foreclose on your home. To avoid this, you may choose to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which can actually help you pay off your mortgage over time, rather than having it forgiven. However, if you have a second mortgage or another junior loan on your home, such as a home equity line of credit, you may be unsure about how these loans will be treated during the bankruptcy process. In some cases, you may be able to use a process known as "lien stripping" to discharge these debts, which may reduce the total amount you will be required to repay.

Chapter 13 and Junior Loans

Under Chapter 13 bankruptcy, also known as reorganization bankruptcy, debtors are required to repay some of their debts over a three- to five-year period. During this timeframe, the court will create a repayment plan that details how much each creditor will be paid back. Unsecured debts, past-due amounts that are owed on secured debts, and other fees or expenses may be grouped into this repayment plan. This will allow the debtor to become current on their home mortgage or other secured debts, as well as any domestic support obligations they owe, and they will be able to repay some of what they owe to unsecured creditors. Once the full three- or five-year plan has been completed, any unsecured debts that remain will be discharged.

While secured creditors will generally be paid in full during a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, it may be possible to have second mortgages or junior loans discharged. Lien stripping may be an option if the value of a debtor's home has decreased and has become "underwater," meaning that they owe more on the primary mortgage than the home is actually worth. In these situations, there will be no equity in the home to secure a second mortgage or other junior loans, and these loans may be reclassified as unsecured debts. This will allow these loans to be "stripped off," and they will be discharged once the bankruptcy process is complete.

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Arlington, TX bankruptcy lawyerIf you are struggling with debt, you may be looking at different options for getting your finances back on track, including filing for bankruptcy. However, you may have heard some things about bankruptcy that make you hesitant to file. It is important to get the facts before making any decisions about your financial future. There are a lot of myths and misconceptions out there about bankruptcy—and they deter many people from taking action when necessary. Here are some of the most common myths about bankruptcy, debunked:

Myth #1: Bankruptcy Will Ruin Your Credit Score

Truth: While a bankruptcy filing will stay on your credit report for seven to 10 years, this does not mean that your credit will be completely ruined. In fact, many people who file for bankruptcy see their credit scores increase within two years after their debts are discharged. If you are careful about using credit and make an effort to pay bills on time after your bankruptcy, you will most likely see your score continue to rise.

Myth #2: You Will Never Be Able to Get Credit Again if You File for Bankruptcy

Truth: While it may be more difficult to obtain new lines of credit right after a bankruptcy, it is certainly not impossible, and there are many lenders that can help people with bad credit get loans. In fact, many people who have filed for bankruptcy are able to get approved for credit within two years post-discharge. Once you start rebuilding your credit, you will likely find it easier to get loans at better interest rates.

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Park, TX bankruptcy attorneyFor people who are considering bankruptcy, large debts have affected their lives and their finances in many ways. The requirement to make payments toward multiple debts each month may have become impossible, especially if a family is experiencing financial difficulties due to the loss of a job, unexpected expenses, or other issues. To make matters worse, late or missed payments may have led creditors to begin taking action to collect debts. People in these situations often experience harassment from creditors, which may include regular phone calls at home or at work, as well as threats to repossess property or even claims that a person could face criminal consequences due to failure to repay what is owed. 

One of the key benefits of filing for bankruptcy is the fact that doing so will put an "automatic stay" in place that will require creditors to stop attempting to collect debts. The automatic stay is a court order that will force creditors to cease any debt collection actions while the bankruptcy case is ongoing. For those who are thinking of filing for bankruptcy, it is important to understand how the automatic stay works and what it means for creditors.

The Effects of the Automatic Stay

The automatic stay will go into effect as soon as the bankruptcy petition is filed with the court. Creditors will be notified of the bankruptcy, and they will be prohibited from taking any actions to collect the debt. This includes wage garnishment, foreclosure, and repossession. In fact, it applies to any actions that a creditor may take against a debtor, including calling them to seek repayment or sending collection notices in the mail. If a creditor tries to collect a debt or take any action after the bankruptcy has been filed, they may be held in contempt of court. 

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TX bankruptcy lawyerDebt can be a problem for many people, especially those who have suffered setbacks that have affected their income and financial resources, such as a serious illness that has limited their ability to work. Fortunately, bankruptcy can be an option for eliminating debts. When you file for bankruptcy in Texas, your case will be assigned to one of two chapters—Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. In order to qualify for Chapter 7, which will allow for the elimination of most debts within a few months after filing, you must pass the means test, which is a way of determining whether your income is low enough to allow you to file for this type of bankruptcy.

How Does the Means Test Work?

The means test is actually quite simple. First, your income is calculated by taking your total household income from the past six months and averaging it out to determine your monthly income. This number will be compared to the median income earned by people in Texas, and this amount will be based on the size of your household. For Texas bankruptcy cases filed after May 15, 2022, the median income for a single person is $55,441, or $4,620 per month. For a married couple, the median income is $74,636, and higher median incomes will apply if a person or couple has children or if there are others who live in their household. If your income is below the median for your family size, you automatically qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

If your income is above the median, this does not necessarily mean that you will not qualify for Chapter 7. In these cases, your disposable income will be calculated by taking your average monthly income and subtracting different expenses. These include things like mortgage or rent payments, car payments and transportation expenses, utility bills, medical expenses, food and clothing costs, and other necessary expenses. After determining your disposable income per month, this will be compared with the total amount of debt you owe. Generally, if applying your disposable income toward your debts for five years would result in less than 25 percent of your total debts being repaid, then you will pass the means test.

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