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On chapter 7 petition, what is the best way to describe my mom's car that is in my name. I don't want any trouble.

Riverside, CA |

Basically, it's her car. she pays ALL payments, but it's in my name for financing reasons. She may have a little bit of equity in it.
How do I list / explain it?
Do I still need to exempt it?
What else will this cause me to do differently. She certainly wants to keep the car.

Attorney Answers 5


  1. If your name is on the title you own the car. You have to list her payments for the car as income if you also include the payment for the car as an expense. you may not transfer the title to the car to your Mom. Talk to a bankruptct attorney or you risk losing the car. Again, if your Mom is not on the Title she does not ownthe car.

    Good Luck!

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    Disclaimer: This answer does not constitute legal advice. I am admitted in the States of New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts only and make no attempt to opine on matters of law that are not relevant to those three States. This advice is based on general principles of law that may or may not relate to your specific situation. Facts and laws change and these possible changes will affect the advice provided here. Consult an attorney in your locale before you act on any of this advice. You should not rely on this advice alone and nothing in these communications creates an attorney client relationship. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author only and the fact that he has worked as an Assistant District Attorney; State Supreme Court Clerk; Special Assistant United States Attorney (Hawaii); Assistant Cornell University Counsel or Judge Advocate, United States Marine Corps should not be relied upon to assume that these statements reflect the policy of these organizations.


  2. If it's in your name, it's your car. Period. You list it on Schedule "B" as your vehicle with it's current fair market value, and list any debts secured against it in Schedule "D". If there's equity, you can exempt it using whatever exemptions you have available under applicable law (see http://www.bklaw.com/exemptions.html for more on this).

    If she's been making payments on the car directly to the vehicle creditor, then you should not include the monthly payment in your budget on Schedule "J". I don't think you have to include the payments she's made as income, but that would need to be researched. If she's been making payments directly to you and you make the payments on the car, then you must include that as part of your income on both the Means Test and Schedule "I".

    This is rather complicated, so you really need to hire a competent bankruptcy attorney to properly handle this.

    Mark J. Markus, Attorney at Law
    Handling exclusively bankruptcy law cases in California since 1991.
    http://www.bklaw.com/


  3. The vehicle needs to be scheduled as an asset on Schedule B with the estate's interest valued at zero and a disclosure that the vehicle is titled in your name as an accomodation for your mother. You should clearly state the fact that your mother has made all payments on the vehicle and that you are holding title as a nominee only. If you have an exemption available you should definitely use it. Then you need to disclose the vehicle in the statement of financial affairs question that requires disclosure of property held for another person. Be sure to account for the payments in Schedules I and J and on the Means Test.

    This answer does not constitute legal advice. Consult a Board Certified Bankruptcy Attorney regarding your specific situation.


  4. The law requires you list all assets in your name. If possible it's always a good idea to exempt any equity. As mentioned, you may want to write a clear, concise note detailing the ownership of the vehicle. While everyone has his and her own writing style, its important that your petition include a honest explanation.


  5. If it's in your name, you list it as yours. I've had clients prepared with affidavits from the actual owner/debtor explaining the situation and showing copies of cancelled checks in case an issue arises. It's up to the Trustee what to do with that, of course. The important thing is to be completely truthful. And I NEVER recommend that debtors file their own bankruptcy because there are too many issues that can hurt you.

    This response is for informational purposes only and neither constitutes legal advice nor establishes an attorney-client relationship.