Sacramento area residents considering Chapter 13 bankruptcy may be interested to know that bankruptcy law allows a filer to “cram down” an automobile loan to its fair market value. A “cramdown” is the lending and bankruptcy term that allows a borrower to eliminate any excess principal owed on a loan to the market value of the property that secures the loan. Mortgage Lender’s made the “cramdown” issue highly visible last year when Congress considered passing a law that would have allowed home mortgages to be “crammed down” under a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Due to the vociferous opposition posed by the mortgage lending industry Congress never passed that law. However, the law remains settled that a Chapter 13 debtor can use a “cramdown” on just about any loan other than a primary home mortgage.
A “cramdown” is available to a Chapter 13 debtor on just about every type of secured loan besides the loan on a first deed of trust or mortgage. This means the “cramdown” is available for loans on trucks, cars, second homes, boats, and just about any property that would be foreclosed or repossessed in the borrower fails to make payments. Most Chapter 13 debtors use this law on their personal vehicles. Pursuant to the Bankruptcy Code, the “cramdown” remains available on vehicles purchased more than 30 months ago. Thus, if a debtor owes $15,000 on a vehicle whose value is only $12,000, he/she could “cram down” the remaining $3,000 son long as the vehicle was bought more than 30 months ago. The bankruptcy law also allows the debtor to modify the interest rate affecting the loan to the current “prime” interest rate plus 3 percent. Depending on the conditions whereby a debtor received the loan this could drop their interest rate substantially.
Use of the Chapter 13 “cramdown” can benefit a Chapter 13 debtor substantially by allowing him/her to retain their personal vehicle at a more affordable monthly payment. This mechanism allows my client’s to maintain their possessions and experience as little change as possible after filing the voluntary petition.
The Law Offices of Matthew D. Roy assists individuals throughout Northern California explore bankruptcy as an option for dealing with debilitating debt problems. I have often met with clients who are afraid to file bankruptcy because they do not want to lose their personal possessions. Often times, most bankruptcy filers in either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 are able to retain all if not most of their personal possessions. Chapter 13 debtors are specifically able to retain property through a modified payment plan that has been approved by the bankruptcy court. If you have considered filing for bankruptcy you should contact a Sacramento Bankruptcy Attorney familiar with the bankruptcy code and the practices involved with securing an economic fresh start on behalf of the debtor.