Reaffirmation Agreements in Bankruptcy
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What Are Reaffirmation Agreements?
Reaffirmation agreements are agreements where the debtor agrees not to discharge a debt to a creditor. In exchange, the creditor promises not to repossess collateral property.
Are There Any Requirements to Making a Reaffirmation Agreement?
To ensure that creditors don’t defraud debtors, reaffirmation agreements must be:
- In writing
- Filed with the court
- Certified by the debtor’s attorney
If the debtor does not have an attorney, the court must examine the agreement.
The debtor’s attorney or the court must certify that the agreement will not pose the debtor undue hardship after the bankruptcy is over and that the agreement is in the debtor’s best interest. The debtor’s best interest and lack of undue hardship are both high standards. As a result, most debtors’ attorneys are hesitant to accept a reaffirmation agreement unless the agreement does favor the debtor.
Can I Change My Mind after Signing the Agreement?
Debtors have sixty (60) days to revoke the agreement. After that, the debtor must accept the consequences.
Why Do Debtors’ Attorneys Dislike Reaffirmation?
Most debtors go into bankruptcy to discharge their debts. Reaffirmation means that the debtor promises to repay the debt even though the debt would have been discharged. In other words, the debtor would be forfeiting the reason he or she went into bankruptcy in the first place. Many debtors feel obligated to pay back the debt even though bankruptcy gives the debtor a way out of those debtors. The creditor might be a long time supplier or a doctor who has treated the debtor since the debtor was a child.
An effective bankruptcy means that the debt will no longer be legally obligated to repay the debt. If the debtor has a moral or social reason for wanting to repay the creditor after the bankruptcy is over, the debtor can do so. The debtor doesn’t need a reaffirmation agreement to repay the debtor.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
Many creditors will offer debtors reaffirmation agreements that look good on their face, but will not be in the debtor’s best interests in the long run. Although judges are required to look over reaffirmation agreements if the debtor doesn’t have an attorney, judges also have an obligation to remain neutral. An experienced bankruptcy attorney will ensure that your best interests are protected and that you won’t suffer any undue hardship after your case is over.
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Last Modified: 05-14-2014 01:33 PM PDT
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