Orlando real estate investors probably never thought they would be consulting with a bankruptcy attorney to preserve their investments. Who would have thought that chapter 13 of the bankruptcy code would help them hold on to their real estate investments? Orlando real estate investors have been living through the nightmare of watching the loss of value brought on by market forces outside their control. Rampant speculation, bad government policy and massive fraud by Wall street thieves have lead to record deflation in the value of real estate. Who could have imagined ten years ago that a solid investment in owning land would leave owners with mortgage debts that exceeded fair market value of property? Before “short sale” became a household phrase, owning real estate, particularly rental homes, was considered a safe and prudent method of investing money. But now, owners of rental homes in Orlando are drowning in “underwater” properties that are worth less than the mortgages that encumber them. Investors are losing their properties in foreclosure on a unprecedented scale.
When I consult with Orlando families who are considering bankruptcy to resolve their financial crisis, they are often interested in knowing whether they can keep a car, truck, motorcycle, or other motor vehicle that they believe is owned by their children out of the bankruptcy case. Many parents purchase cars for the benefit of their children. It is also common for a grandparent to buy a car for a grandchild. In each of these situations, the parent keeps the car titled in their name, usually to avoid the high cost of insurance for the child. While they may save money on insurance, it is likely that in most cases the car will be considered to be owned by the parent, to the child, and the trustee will demand that it be surrendered as property of the bankruptcy estate.
A frequent question that I receive from married people who are are thinking about a bankruptcy to re-organize their finances is: can I file a bankruptcy without my spouse? The answer is: Yes! The bankruptcy code permits a married person to file a bankruptcy petition without their spouse joining.