July 20, 2018

Does the Name on the Car Title Matter?

As a bankruptcy lawyer, I have to deal with the consequence of what I call “real world” activities.    In the non-bankruptcy world people make decisions that will save money and make life easier.  For example, blog reader Lou writes me with a question about car titles:

I might need to file chapter 13 in the future.  I filed a Chapter 7 in 2003 and now have a lot of credit card debt.  I have a house but I do not want to keep it. When the house goes into foreclosure the only property I will have in my name is 3 cars valued from $6000 to $8000 each.  I only own one of them.  The other two belong to my parents.  I got loans in my name for the cars because I got the best rates, but when they were paid off I never signed the titles over to my parents.  In a ch. 13 will all the cars be considered mine, or is there a way to prove that they belong to my parents?  My name is the only name on the titles.

It appears to me that Lou and his parents made a common sense decision at a time when bankruptcy was not a consideration.  Lou most likely qualified for better rates because he was working so he made a decision to help out his parents by applying for car loans in his name.   His parents have made all the payments so as far as they and Lou are concerned the cars belong to the parents.

Unfortunately this is not how the bankruptcy court will look at things.   [Read more…]

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