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If you are behind on your house or car payments, Chapter 13 allows you to pay back the missed payments over time (typically 36 to 60 months). As long as you have sufficient income to make your current house or car payments as they come due and make the Chapter 13 plan payments, Chapter 13 can enable you to keep your property.
Example 1: Let’s say that John and Marie’s mortgage payment is $1000 per month, and they are 8 months behind on their payments. How do they get caught up on the $8000 in back payments? If John and Mary file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, they can pay the arrearage over time through the Chapter 13 bankruptcy plan over 36 to 60 months. In the meantime, they will begin making their regular mortgage payment to the bank as if they were current. This will enable them to keep their house.
Example 2: Let’s say Bob owns a car that is worth $20,000, but he owes $17,000 on his auto loan. Bob is 5 months behind on his auto payments of $300 per month, leaving him with an arrearage of $1500. If Bob files for Chapter 13, and begins making his regular car payment, he can pay back the $1500 through the Chapter 13 plan.
Quick Note: In Chapter 13 case in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, you continue to make your house payments directly to the lender. However, your car payments may be made through the plan. You may even be able to reduce the balance, interest, and payment on your car loan or some other secured loans through a bankruptcy cramdown. >>More
In most cases, the answer is yes. In Chapter 7 cases, it depends largely on how much equity you have in your home or vehicle. (Equity is the difference between what you owe on an item and what it is worth.) For the most part, if (1) the equity in your house or auto is not more than the exemption for that type of property, and (2) you are current on your payments, you can keep it. (If you are behind on your home or car payments, you may need to consider Chapter 13.)
Example 1: Bob and Mary are married and own a home in Montgomery County worth $140,000. They owe $100,000 on the mortgage loan. After subtracting the value of the home ($140,000) from the amount they owe ($100,000), they have $40,000 in equity in their house. The current federal exemption for equity in a home is $50,300 for a married couple ($25,150 for an individual). Because the amount of Bob and Mary’s equity ($40,000) is less than the exemption of $50,300, John and Mary can exempt all of the equity in their home. Thus, as long as Bob and Mary are current on the payments at the time of filing and continue to make payments during and after their bankruptcy, they can keep the home.
Example 2: Jane owns a car that is worth $12,000. She owes $10,000 on an auto loan, leaving her with $2000 in equity in the car ($12,000 minus the $10,000 loan). There is an exemption of $4000 for motor vehicles. Because her equity ($2000) is less than the available exemption ($3450), Jane’s equity in the vehicle is exempt. As long as Jane is current on her auto loan payment and continues to pay on time, she can keep the car. Some auto lenders require a “reaffirmation agreement,” which we will discuss elsewhere.
Debt settlement can be a good option for resolving debts, including judgments. Many creditors will negotiate lump-sum settlements of debts or, in some cases, payment arrangements.
However, negotiating with creditors or debt collectors without the asistance of an attorney can be costly. Often, an attorney can help you reach a much better settlement than you could reach on your own. However, debt settlement can have tax and other financial consequences.
It is important to explore all of your options before committing to debt settlement. At the least, before entering into negotiations with a creditor over any significant debt, be sure to speak to an with an experienced debt settlement attorney. >>More
Regardless of whether a creditor has a judgment or not, there are limits to what it can do to collect a debt. The actions of debt collectors are limited by the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act(“FDCPA”), the Pennsylvania Fair Credit Extension Uniformity Act (“FCEUA”), and other consumer laws. Common acts, such as impersonating an attorney or law enforcement officer, threatening arrest, calling in the middle of the night, etc., are forbidden.
Likewise,providing false information about a debtor’s accounts to the credit bureau is aviolation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”). Violations of any of these acts can result inthe debtor paying you damages and your attorney’s fees. >>More