“If I file for bankruptcy, will I lose my car?”

No, you won’t lose your car. Well…you probably won’t lose your car. Like so many other things in life, it depends on your situation.

If you file a personal consumer bankruptcy petition – usually a chapter 7 or 13 – you keep your personal property, retirement plans and even equity in your home up to certain exemption limits. For most people I meet with, these exemption limits are high enough to cover all their furniture, coffeemakers, the 46″ Sony television, the Xbox 360 that stopped working last year, their 2001 Hyundai Accent with 147,000 miles, and their collection of grease stained NASCAR baseball caps.  Oh, and your $235,000 TIAA/CREF pension will be just fine too.

“But I’m still making payments on my 2011 Ford F-150. Don’t I have to give it back to the bank?”

If you’re current on your payments, and are able to keep making your payments, you’ll almost certainly be able to keep your car or truck. (There are some rare exceptions, but aren’t there always?)

“Wow! You really seem to know what you’re talking about! Can you help me?”

Thanks. Maybe I can help. Maybe not. So why not give me a call and find out? I don’t charge for initial bankruptcy consultations, so you don’t need to worry about giving me your last fifty bucks only to be told you need to get a job. We’ll sit down, go over your finances, and see what options we can come up with. Maybe bankruptcy will be the best course of action, or maybe we’ll figure out a plan for paying back your creditors. But either way, you’ll have finally done something about all those credit card statements you shoved in the junk drawer, hoping they’d somehow go away.

“But I don’t have enough money to pay a lawyer to represent me in a bankruptcy.”

You know, there are other lawyers in Lebanon that you might want to call. Just kidding. Look, filing a bankruptcy petition isn’t cheap. The filing fees that the court charges alone are over $300. But talk to me anyway. We can usually figure out a plan that doesn’t involve you painting my office or mowing my lawn.

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