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With personal bankruptcy, can I pay some debts to retain items?

Pennsylvanians who are experiencing financial problems can benefit from bankruptcy. It will help a person to clear unsecured debt and move on with their lives. However, there are times when a debtor has certain properties that he or she would like to retain, even if it can be discharged. Examples could be a family vehicle or home. This makes it necessary to promise to repay the debt by signing and filing a reaffirmation agreement.

The reaffirmation agreement is voluntary, and there are special rules. The following must be in place for there to be a reaffirmation agreement: the agreement must be voluntarily; the debt must not place a burden that is too significant on the debtor; it must be in the debtor's best interest; and the court can cancel it at any time before the court issues the discharge or within 60 days after the agreement was filed -- whichever will provide the most time.

The agreement must be approved by the court. If the debt is reaffirmed and the debtor does not pay what is owed, the debt will be the same as if there was not a bankruptcy filing. There will be no discharge, and the creditor will be able to move to recover the property, if there is a mortgage or a lien on it. And, legal action can be taken to gain a judgment.

A reaffirmation agreement can be a confusing part of personal bankruptcy. Debtors might not realize that they can use this alternative to retain certain properties that would otherwise be lost through the filing. To understand a reaffirmation and any other issue related to filing for bankruptcy, a lawyer can help.

Source: Justice.gov, "Bankruptcy Information Sheet -- What is a Reaffirmation Agreement?," accessed on July 24, 2017

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