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Do I Still Owe Secured Debts (Mortgages, Car Loans) After Bankruptcy?

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Yes and No.  The term “secured debt” applies when you give the lender a mortgage, deed of trust, or lien on property as collateral for a loan.  The most common types of secured debts are home mortgages and car loans.  The treatment of secured debts after bankruptcy can be confusing.

Bankruptcy cancels your personal legal obligation to pay a debt, even a secured debt.  This means the secured creditor can’t sue you after a bankruptcy to collect the money you owe.

But, and this is a big “but,” the creditor can still take back their collateral if you don’t pay the debt.  For example, if you are behind on a car loan or home mortgage, the creditor can ask the bankruptcy court for permission to repossess your car or foreclose on your home.  Or the creditor can just wait until your bankruptcy is over and then do so.  Although a secured creditor can’t sue you if you don’t pay, that creditor can usually take back the collateral.

For this reason, if you want to keep property that is collateral for a secured debt, you will need to catch up on the payments and continue to make them during and after bankruptcy, keep any required insurance, and you may have to reaffirm the loan.