The short answer on whether or not you can lose your property when filing for bankruptcy in New York City is: Maybe. The determining factors are what type of bankruptcy protection you are filing for and whether or not you have equity or loans on the property.
Chapter 7 Property Exemptions in New York
A Chapter 7 filing allows you to discharge debts in part by selling off property that is not exempt.
The primary residence is eligible for a “homestead exemption” that protects the equity in a home provided it does not exceed $150,000 per person. Spouses doing a joint filing can claim $300,000 in exemptions for a single home.
A single automobile that has $4,000 in equity can also be protected; this increases for those driving handicapped-equipped vehicles and are disabled to $10,000. Spouses filing jointly can raise this limit on one car to $8,000.
Equity is the difference between what is owed on the property and what it could sell for on the open market. In other words, equity is the money that a person could reasonably expect to receive after they sold the house or car and paid off the loan. Chapter 7 does not protect filers from creditors if they still owe money on a house or car. These are “secured loans” and creditors use these properties as collateral. The lender can still repossess the property if one is either behind on their payments or falls behind later.
Keeping Property with Chapter 13
A Chapter 13 filing allows people to work out a repayment plan with their creditors and, as long as they keep up on their payments, they should be able to keep all their property. This type of filing is useful for those who are on the verge of losing their home, car, etc., but have the ability and income to catch up on their payments over a certain period of time (usually 36 months or 60 months). Creditors have to agree to the arrangement and allow you to pay back the money you owe. As long as the arrangements are honored, you should not have any further problems.
There are many aspects to filing for bankruptcy that you may want to seek legal help to understand. A New York bankruptcy lawyer can help guide you through the process and take advantage of all the options available to you. They can also help you determine whether the Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 filing is better for you to protect assets. The Law Office of Julio E. Portilla, P.C., is committed to handling your case personally, compassionately, and aggressively, and it will always maintain an open line of communication with you throughout the duration of your legal matter. Call for a free consultation to determine if you will lose your property if you file for bankruptcy.