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I own my car free and clear, but I need to file for bankruptcy protection due to a deficiency judgement from a foreclosure.

Miami, FL |

I own my car free and clear, but I need to file for bankruptcy protection due to a deficiency judgement from a foreclosure, am I able to exempt the car if I use it for work? I travel to different locations and my car is a requirement. The value of my is $18k.

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Attorney answers 4


Your car is an asset that may be subject to liquidation in a Chapter 7 case. While part of the value may be protected under an applicable exemption (you would need to consult with local bankruptcy counsel to find that out as exemptions are often state specific), I suspect that the car will be of interest to a panel trustee, resulting in a sale. However, it may be possible to buy back the equity from the trustee.

The foregoing is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advise.


The value of your car is substantially above the exemption amount. Your car with either be subject to sale by the trustee, or you will have to buy out the amount of equity you have in the car (above the exemption amount). You may not be able to get a discharge if you already have a judgment against you. You should consult with a bankruptcy attorney to make sure bankruptcy is your best option.

THESE COMMENTS ARE NOT LEGAL ADVICE. They are provided for informational purposes only. Actual legal advice can only be provided after consultation by an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction. Answering this question does not create an attorney-client relationship or otherwise require further consultation.


The car is an asset the trustee might be interested in placing for sale given the value.

To discuss all your options, hire a FL bankruptcy lawyer in the Miami area. Click the Find a Lawyer tab in the top of your screen to get started.


Many people think that vehicles or tools they use for work are protected from creditor claims. There is no "tools of the trade" exemption in Florida law. The assets which you can protect depend on the exemptions you're entitled to use, and that depends on how long you've lived in Florida, whether you own your home, etc.

Depending on the value of your non-exempt assets, it may make sense to file a chapter 7 and pay the bankruptcy estate the excess value. Virtually all chapter 7 trustees make "buy back" arrangements with the debtor, but the total has to be paid over a relatively short period of time. If you can't afford the required payments for a buy back in chapter 7, you may be able to fund a chapter 13 plan. The plan payment is based on your income, reasonable living expenses and the value of non-exempt assets.

You should meet with a local attorney who is experienced in bankruptcy. Most give free initial consultations, and can tell you whether you'd be better off in chapter 7 or chapter 13.

Good luck!

Sharon Sperling
P.O. Box 358000
Gainesville FL 32635-8000
352-377-6324 fax