Narron Wenzel, P.A.
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North Carolina Bankruptcy attorneys
As attorneys practicing in Smithfield and Raleigh, North Carolina, we understand how overwhelming and stressful it can be for clients to file for bankruptcy. Our primary goal is to help clients navigate the bankruptcy process with ease and achieve financial stability. We provide comprehensive legal representation to clients throughout the bankruptcy process, from the initial consultation to the final discharge of debts.
Are You Facing Any of the Following Challenges? We Can Help
Foreclosure of Your Home
We help families obtain temporary and long term solutions to keep their homes.
Repossession of Your Vehicle
Bankruptcy can be an effective tool to prevent repossession of a vehicle.
An automatic stay can stop all collection actions, including creditor harassment.
Student Loan Debt
We help plan and tackle piling student loan debt.
Medical Bills can often be discharged along with other types of unsecured debts, through bankruptcy.
Stress & Uncertainty
Our expertise in bankruptcy law allows us to guide clients through the process of bankruptcy.
Client-Centered Consumer Bankruptcy Lawyers
We understand the emotional toll that financial struggles can take on individuals and families and work to provide a compassionate and understanding approach to the bankruptcy process. By providing comprehensive legal and emotional support, we aim to help clients move forward with a fresh start and a brighter financial future.
the benefits & trade-offs of bankruptcy
Bankruptcy cases are full of various trade-offs. A debtor receives significant help getting out of his or her debt, but in return, must disclose all financial information, usually including projected income and expenses, current debts and assets, and any transfers recently made. Creditors may end up stuck with unpaid debts resulting from the process, but they also have the resources and ability to appear and be heard in bankruptcy cases, either through the filing of claims, the confirmation process or through contesting dischargeability of certain debts.
Particularly in consumer cases, the retention of a debtor’s car or truck with high monthly payments can be a conundrum in getting a case to successful completion. Courts are loathe to favor expenditures which are for luxury goods or which serve to perpetuate a luxury lifestyle. In re Loper, 367 B.R. 660 (Bankr. D. Colo. 2007); In re McNichols, 249 B.R. 160 (Bankr. N.D. Ill. 2000). Expensive sport utility vehicles often catch the attention of trustees and judges, and are generally luxuries that are not enjoyed by the average American family. In re Nicola, 244 B.R. 795 (Bankr. N.D. Ill. 2000), In re Zaleski, 216 B.R. 425 (Bankr. D. N.D. 1997). Likewise, a single debtor that retains multiple modes of transportation at the expense of his or her creditors is not likely to find favor with a bankruptcy court. In re Allawas, 2008 WL 6069662 (Bankr. D. S.C. 2008); In re Brown; 546 B.R. 642 (Bankr. E.D.N.C. 2016).
The matter in question for most courts is whether a debtor has entered into a bankruptcy case in “good faith” when proposing to both retain and pay for an expensive car while discharging much of the existing unsecured debt. A court will not abide a debtor using his or her income to maintain a luxurious lifestyle at the expense of the unsecured creditors. In re Martellini, 482 B.R. 537 (Bankr. D. S.C. 2012). Most courts fail to find good faith when a debtor proposes to retain a sports car or other luxury vehicle, such as a Mercedes or Lexus. In re Nadeau, 520 B.R. 380 (Bankr. D. R.I. 2014); In re Walls, 2010 WL 2219329 (Bankr. M.D.N.C. 2010). In the Middle District of North Carolina, a debtor proposed a Chapter 13 plan retaining three vehicles subject to secured claims, most notably a 2008 Nissan Titan worth $25,375.00 that was used primarily to take trash to the dump. In re Mazzarella, 2010 WL 4452352 (Bankr. M.D.N.C. 2010). The plan proposed no dividend to unsecured claims. Id. The court denied confirmation finding the retention of the 2008 Nissan Titan to be an unnecessary luxury. Id.
The lesson for both consumers potentially considering bankruptcy and for bankruptcy attorneys is to carefully consider whether to retain that new truck, expensive SUV, or sportscar as part of the bankruptcy case, particularly if the plan is to discharge substantial unsecured debt without payment. Many years ago, a rule of thumb was that a debtor could not drive a car nicer than the bankruptcy judge, but that rule likely still holds true in most courtrooms today. If a debtor wants to retain “luxury” items, some kind of payment on the unsecured debt should be proposed.
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About Narron Wenzel, P.A.
Our mission is to improve the lives of the clients we serve.
Addtional Practice Areas
Practice areas include corporate & business law, civil litigation, estates & trusts, real estate, and more.
Contact Narron Wenzel today to speak with an attorney.