Bankruptcy provides a fresh start for many, but what happens when some of your secured debt, such as a vehicle, has a co-signer? If you are planning on filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and in doing so surrendering secured property, you should understand that when it comes to co-signers and bankruptcy, the protection of bankruptcy only covers the person filing, not the co-signing party.
Lets say that your sweet Granny Ann helped you to get a new car by co-signing on the loan with you. After a few years you realize that your auto loan payments are just too high and you are drowning in debt. When you decide to file for Chapter 7, even though you have surrendered the vehicle, sweet Granny Ann is still legally responsible for the remaining balance. However, if sweet Granny Ann also decides to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, she could then discharge her own legal responsibility for the remaining balance.
This is the reason that most married couples are urged to file a joint petition. However, if a married couple does not have any joint debt then it may not be necessary to file bankruptcy together. In Minnesota, you are not automatically liable for all of your spouse’s debts, but you are responsible for your spouse’s debts incurred during the marriage for necessities of life, including medical bills.
In a scenario where the person filing for bankruptcy is the co-signer on a debt, lets say it’s sweet Granny Ann and she co-signed with you on your car, she must still list the vehicle and debt in her bankruptcy. She would be able to explain on her schedule that the vehicle actually belongs to her grandchild and that her grandchild makes all of the payments. This typically does not affect the contract between the grandchild and the lender, this would just eliminate Granny Ann’s duty as a co-signer.
There are many complex circumstances and legal issues that can effect co-signers when filing for bankruptcy. Contact Minnesota bankruptcy Attorney Gregory J. Wald today if you have questions about this matter or would like to set up a consultation.