Can I keeP my car in bankruptcy?
US Bankruptcy law provides for several different ways to deal with cars in bankruptcy. How you deal with your car in bankruptcy depends on several factors, including which bankruptcy chapter you file under and whether you still owe money on the car.
In a chapter 7 bankruptcy, if you still owe money on the car, you can opt to “reaffirm” the loan. This allows you to continue paying the payments and to keep the car while receiving a discharge on other debts. If you are behind on the payments, you will need to make up the delinquent amount before you can reaffirm. If your car is paid off, you can apply the exemptions available under the bankruptcy code to protect your equity in the car up to a specific dollar amount. If the car is worth more than the exemptions protect, you will likely have to pay the difference to the bankruptcy trustee in order to keep the car.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy provides more options for dealing with cars. Of course, if your car is paid off, the exemptions protect your equity the same way that they do in a chapter 7 case. If your car is worth more than the exemptions protect, you will likely have to pay the difference into the chapter 13 payment plan. If you still owe money on the car, you can opt to continue paying the payment outside of the chapter 13 payment plan under the terms of the original loan. However, depending on when you bought the car, you may be able to keep the car while reducing the amount you owe and / or the interest you are paying on the loan. This option is particularly useful for people who find themselves in the all-too-common position of owing more on the car than the car is worth.
If you have questions about how your car or other property might be treated in bankruptcy, call Owings Law today.
Chapter 13 of the United States Bankruptcy Code allows for debt reorganization rather than the debt liquidation that occurs under a chapter 7 bankruptcy. Under chapter 13, a person is protected by the bankruptcy court while he or she repays all or part of the debt. That protection includes a ban on debt collectors taking any action against the debtor outside of the bankruptcy process. This ban is called the “automatic stay,” and it means that debt collectors are not allowed to call, send letters, or take any legal action directly against you once you file for bankruptcy.
For both forms of bankruptcy, there are exemptions that protect some of your property from being taken. For example, these exemptions protect the equity you have in your car and your home up to a specific dollar amount. They also protect your personal property, including firearms and jewelry, up to a specific dollar amount. There is even a “wildcard” exemption that you can apply to just about any property you choose.
Unlike a chapter 7 case, in which a debtor surrenders non-exempt property for liquidation, chapter 13 allows the debtor to retain some non-exempt property while making monthly payments on the debt. The chapter 13 payment a person makes on the debt depends on the person’s disposable income, which is how much the person has left over each month after paying living expenses. Chapter 13 generally allows for a fairly generous budget for living expenses, including an allowance for entertainment each month. This budget ensures that your life doesn’t stop when you file for bankruptcy.
If you have questions about chapter 13 or chapter 7 bankruptcy, contact Owings Law for a free bankruptcy consultation today. Our bankruptcy lawyers are here to answer your legal bankruptcy questions.
If you have ever asked the question: “What’s a chapter 7 bankruptcy” or “What’s a chapter 13 bankruptcy,” you are not alone. The short answer is that a Chapter 7 bankruptcy erases most kinds of debt, but you may have to turn over assets. You may also be barred from filing a Chapter 7 due to income. The bankruptcy lawyers at Owings Law can answer your legal bankruptcy questions and explain the differences between Chapter 7 bankruptcy and Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Our bankruptcy attorneys offer free bankruptcy consultations, and we are happy to evaluate your situation to determine whether you should file bankruptcy under Chapter 13 or Chapter 7.
"The Right to be Forgotten" is a concept that has gotten some traction in Europe, but is largely unknown in the United States. The right to be forgotten is still developing law, but it means that a person is allowed to request that certain information that is irrelevant or untimely be removed from the Internet.
The right to be forgotten is an old concept that developed out of French law, but a recent case helped solidify the concept. A man named Mario Costeja Gonzalez had a foreclosure in 1998. The local newspaper published a legal notice to attract buyers to the sale. In 2009, Mr. Gonzalez discovered that the newspaper digitized past editions of the newspaper and placed those online. Google indexed the newspaper's website, and when a person searched Google for Mr. Gonzalez's name, the foreclosure result was one of the first results to appear. Mr. Gonzalez filed suit against the newspaper for digitizing the edition, and against Google for ranking the link as one of the most relevant pieces of information about him.
The courts determined that the newspaper did no wrong in digitizing and publishing that edition of the paper. This was considered a historical event that occurred and the fact that it was now easier to search than it used to be didn't violate his privacy rights. However, the court ruled that Google was wrong to apply its algorithm and make this particular result one of the easiest to find. The court said that the information was irrelevant or untimely since it occurred many years earlier. In essence, Google wrongly determined that this was an important fact about Mr. Gonzalez and that it should appear early in the results.
This ruling enforced the European Right to be Forgotten. In Europe, cyber information essentially has an expiration date, albeit a fluid one. If the data isn't relevant or timely, a European citizen can request that it be removed from the search results. However, only European citizens currently have this right. A US citizen may not request that information be removed, because the US privacy laws do not currently support the same finding. This strikes many people as unusual. After all, Mr. Gonzalez cannot have his information removed from any searches done on Google in the US, so the information still exists. Likewise, a US citizen who later lives abroad cannot have his information removed and make it unavailable for searches.
This essentially creates a "split Internet" where the data is undermined. After all, while the facts are the same no matter who is performing the search, the results will be different. This seems to go against the entire point of the Internet for many- to allow free and open sharing throughout the world.
Currently, the US laws do not support removal of information. But should they? Many people argue that there should be a right to be forgotten. If you look at defamation law, traditionally, it was split into slander and libel. Slander was an untrue statement that was spoken and libel was an untrue statement that was printed. Libel was punished more harshly if proven because the information was likely to continue longer than if someone simply told another a lie about a third person. With the Internet, we have a situation in which the information is more or less never forgotten. And when search engines such as Google apply their own proprietary algorithm to determine that this is an important fact, the potential for damage is ongoing.
Many would argue there is a difference between an untrue statement and a true but embarrassing statement. This is a valid concern. The tort of "publication of private facts" addresses this concern. The publication of private facts is the publication of private facts that would offend a reasonable person, and that would not be of legitimate concern to the public. In other words, a person might be offended that a foreclosure from many years earlier was still showing up on the first page of their search results, and this isn't information that is a legitimate concern to the public. On the other hand, say a convicted sex offender wants their arrest record removed. This might reasonably offend them, but it is of legitimate concern to the public; the public would want to know whether their neighbor was convicted of a sex crime. The problem with using "publication of private facts" as a means for arguing that Google results should be removed is that the tort varies from state to state, and there is no uniform US law allowing removal across all states.
Until such laws are passed, there will be a patchwork of search results that are available in one area of the world but not another.
What are your thoughts? Should US citizens have the right to have embarrassing information removed? Should information have an expiration date? Should the information be available for all time- even long after the person concerned has passed away? Can such laws be enacted without running afoul of the First Amendment? Or should this be a corporate policy that companies such as Google adopt? Are we okay with companies deciding what information they decide is relevant or timely? All of these questions already exist and are debated on a daily basis, whether we realize it or not. Many people do not post things online or withdraw from social media because they are worried about it haunting them decades later. Others take the opposite approach and post too much because they figure there is nothing they can do about it anyway.