My Car is paid off in full. Will I lose it if I file for Bankruptcy?

There are many different ways that cars can be dealt with in bankruptcy,  depending on what chapter you file for, how many cars you have, what you want to happen to your car, the car’s value and condition, and whether or not money is still owed on the car.  If your car is paid off in full, what you can do comes down to something called bankruptcy exemptions.  Simply put, exemptions are items that you can keep up to a certain dollar value.  So the first thing that you will want to know is how much is your car worth.  To answer that question, you should know what model your car is, the mileage, and overall condition.  Sites like Kelly Blue Book can then help you determine a realistic value. In Illinois, automobile exemption is $2,400 as of January 1, 2015.  If your car is worth more than that, don’t worry- you might have other options for protecting it.  If you are married and own the car jointly with your spouse who will also file for Chapter 7 with you, the exemption can double to $4,800 and there is also a “wild card” exemption that you may want to use to stack on top of your automobile exemption.  In Chapter 13, the un-exempt equity in your car factors into how much money you are repaying to the court each month.  It can get confusing and dealing with exemptions in bankruptcy is where many people get it wrong and really hurt their case, which is one of many reasons that you should be working with an experienced bankruptcy lawyer. Give our office a call to set up a consultation to see how we can help you decide if bankruptcy is a good option for you. 

Carol O'Connor Cadiz
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Attorney & Owner at O'Connor Cadiz Law: Injury & Accidents, Disability Insurance.