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Keeping Your Vehicle During Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

June 24, 2011

While some Americans are able to get by without a personal vehicle, having reliable
transportation is necessary to most. Whether it is a means to get to work, or to school, or
to take the kids to soccer practice, a vehicle can be an important part of daily life. It is no
wonder that one of the first questions bankruptcy clients ask is, “Can I keep my vehicle
during bankruptcy?”

Keeping your vehicle during a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case starts with a few questions.
First, when did you purchase your vehicle? If your purchase was within 910 days of your
bankruptcy filing, the Bankruptcy Code requires that you pay the entire value of the loan,
usually within the three to five year payment period of bankruptcy case. If the vehicle
was purchased more than 910 days before the bankruptcy filing, the court will adjust the
monthly payment based on how much the vehicle is worth.

The second issue is: what is the contract interest rate? In a Chapter 13 case the interest
rate can be adjusted to a maximum allowed interest rate, called the “Till rate” so named
after the U.S. Supreme Court case, Till v. SCS Credit Corp., 541 U.S. 465 (2004). The
Till rate is adjusted twice a year by the bankruptcy court, and has recently been around
5%. Vehicle debt for many Chapter 13 debtors is paid at the Till rate over the course of
the bankruptcy case.

The final issue is: how much is owed? For vehicle purchases more than 910 days prior to
filing the bankruptcy case, the vehicle debt may be “crammed down” to the present value
of the vehicle. In other words, if you purchased a car more than two and a half years ago,
and you owe more than its worth, your car loan will be adjusted to the vehicle’s value
and the debt will be amortized over the Chapter 13 payment period at the Till rate. That is
generally a substantial savings!

The federal law contains several strategies for keeping a vehicle during bankruptcy. If
you need to discharge your debts in bankruptcy, speak with an experienced bankruptcy
to discuss your options to retain your vehicle. In many cases bankruptcy debtors
pay less for monthly vehicle payments after filing bankruptcy. Get the facts today and get
control over your financial future by calling (214)890-0711 & speaking with a Texas bankruptcy lawyer.

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