Can I keep my car?



Last year my old heap started breaking down and breaking down. Afraid
of the debt I'd go into by getting another car, I foolishly kept
getting it fixed. About November, I bit the bullet, scrapped the old
heap, and bought another car on a credit card. This was not done with
a cash advance; the car was charged directly to the card. For
insurance purposes, the car's title was put in a relative's name.
Please understand that I was not trying to defraud the credit card
company or do anything shady, I was merely trying to get a break on

All this quadrupled my debt in less than five months. I wasn't too
worried about this, figuring I could get a part time job and pay down
my debt to a more tolerable level in less than a year.

Then in December the IRS hit me with a claim for back taxes, saying
that a pension fund rollover back in 2001 was not tax exempt. Even
with a part-time job, I would not be able to pay off my debts in any
kind of reasonable time, and I will soon reach the point where I will
have to start putting groceries, utilities and gas for the car on
credit cards just to make it to the end of the month. Although I am
still hoping to find part-time work, I have developed health problems
mostly having to do with my back, and this is severely limiting my
opportunities for part-time employment. Frankly, I don't think I'm
going to be able to find part time work.

Cutting to the chase, can I keep the keep the car even if I file for
Chapter 7? The car was, after all, bought with an unsecured loan, and
I understand that credit card companies usually don't bother to fight
bankruptcies. The balance on this card, currently maxed out, is about
$5000. Would the company be highly motivated to challenge the
bankruptcy for that amount, especially considering that the lender is
out of state? Even though it's in a relative's name, it would probably
look dishonest if I didn't list it among my assets. It's only worth
about $2400 and I have no other assets other than personal property.
Would my exemptions cover the car?

I really need this car for work. I am a low-income worker making
less than $10.00 an hour and probably would not be able to replace the
car if I were to lose it in the bankruptcy.



Brett Weiss

It sounds as if you would be likely able to keep the car, though it may
depend on the details of your case.

I have written a Bankruptcy FAQ which should answer many of your questions
about what is involved--it may be found at

I strongly recommend speaking with a local bankruptcy attorney. Most offer
free initial consultations and he or she should be able to review your
specific situation and let you know what you can and can't do. If you're in
Maryland, DC or Virginia, please let me know--we may be able to help.

Take care.


* Personal Injury/Malpractice Bankruptcy *
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* Attorneys at Law *
* Maryland, D.C. and Federal Bars *
* (e-mail address removed) *
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* Small Business Estates & Estate Planning *

The Small Print: This response is for discussion purposes only. It isn't
meant to be legal advice and you shouldn't treat it as such. If you want
legal advice, speak with a local lawyer familiar with your state's laws who
can review *all* of the facts and the law applicable to your situation.


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