Can I Keep the Furniture I am Financing After I File for Bankruptcy, in St. Paul, Minnesota?

Posted by Danielle Lin on April 3, 2023 at 7:30 AM
Danielle Lin


Filing for bankruptcy often raises questions about the fate of your possessions, especially financed furniture. If you’re wondering, “Can I keep the furniture I am financing after I file bankruptcy in St. Paul, Minnesota?” – the answer is often yes, but it depends on several factors. This comprehensive guide will help you understand your rights and options regarding financed furniture during bankruptcy.

Understanding Secured Debt and Bankruptcy

When you finance furniture, you typically enter into an installment agreement with the creditor, agreeing to make monthly payments until the purchase price is paid in full. This creates a secured debt, meaning the furniture serves as collateral for the loan and the creditor claims a security interest in the furniture. If you fail to make payments, the creditor has the legal right to repossess the furniture.

Bankruptcy law recognizes secured debts differently than unsecured debts, like credit card bills or medical expenses. Secured creditors have a priority claim on the collateral, while unsecured creditors have no specific property to claim.

What Happens to Financed Furniture in Bankruptcy?

Upon filing bankruptcy, an automatic stay is immediately put in place. A bankruptcy trustee is appointed to handle the case, negotiate deals, and address frequently asked questions about bankruptcy. This legal protection prevents creditors, including furniture lenders, from taking collection actions, such as repossession. However, it’s important to understand that the automatic stay doesn’t automatically eliminate your debt.

Options for Dealing with Financed Furniture in Bankruptcy

In bankruptcy, you have several options for dealing with your financed furniture. One key aspect of bankruptcy is the concept of 'debt discharged,' which refers to the legal process of eliminating or wiping out debts through bankruptcy proceedings.

  1. Reaffirmation Agreement: This involves reaffirming your debt with the creditor, agreeing to continue making payments in exchange for keeping the furniture. While this might seem counterintuitive during bankruptcy, it can be beneficial if you value the furniture highly and the monthly payments are manageable.

  2. Redemption: This involves paying the creditor the furniture’s current market value in a lump sum. This can be a good option if the furniture has depreciated significantly since purchase and the lump sum payment is less than the remaining loan balance.

  3. Surrender: This involves voluntarily giving the furniture back to the creditor. It might be the best choice if the furniture has little value to you or the payments are unaffordable.

  4. Keep and Pay: In some cases, you might be able to keep the furniture without reaffirming the debt simply by continuing to make payments. However, this is risky, as the creditor could still choose to repossess the furniture if you miss a payment.

an image showing a person filing bankruptcy

Factors Affecting Your Decision

Several factors influence which option is best for you:

  • Furniture’s Value: If the furniture is new and valuable, reaffirmation or redemption might be worthwhile. If it’s old and depreciated, surrender might be the most practical choice. If a buyer fails to make all payments on financed furniture, the vendor may repossess the property under an installment contract.

  • Loan Balance: If the remaining loan balance is close to the furniture’s current value, redemption could be a good option. If the loan balance is much higher, surrender might be more sensible.

  • Affordability: Can you comfortably afford the monthly payments? If not, reaffirmation might not be sustainable.

  • Emotional Attachment: How much do you value the furniture? If it holds sentimental value, you might be willing to make sacrifices to keep it.

What Happens If You Stop Making Payments?

If you stop making payments on your financed furniture during bankruptcy, the creditor could request relief from the automatic stay to repossess the property. However, this is rare for furniture due to its low resale value. Most creditors find it more cost-effective to write off the debt than to pursue repossession.

Consulting with a Bankruptcy Attorney

Navigating bankruptcy and making informed decisions about your financed furniture requires legal expertise. Consulting with a qualified bankruptcy attorney in St. Paul, Minnesota, is crucial. They can:

  • Explain your rights and options: A bankruptcy attorney can educate you on the applicable bankruptcy law and how it affects your financed furniture.

  • Assess your financial situation: They can help you evaluate the furniture's value, loan balance, and your overall financial circumstances to determine the best course of action.

  • Negotiate with creditors: An attorney can communicate with your furniture lender on your behalf, potentially negotiating more favorable terms or even debt forgiveness.

  • Guide you through the bankruptcy process: They can ensure you file the necessary paperwork correctly and comply with all legal requirements.

Important Considerations

Types of Bankruptcy: The options for dealing with financed furniture might differ depending on whether you file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Child support, also known as domestic support obligations, cannot be discharged in bankruptcy and is not subject to the automatic stay.

Credit Reporting: Your decision regarding financed furniture could affect your credit report. Reaffirming the debt will typically keep the account on your credit report, while surrender could lead to negative marks.

State Laws: Bankruptcy laws and exemptions can vary by state. An attorney familiar with Minnesota law can advise you on your specific rights and protections.

an image showing a reaffirmation agreement in Chapter 7 bankruptcy

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy and Financed Furniture: A Different Approach

In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you propose a repayment plan to the bankruptcy court, which typically lasts 3-5 years. During this time, you make monthly payments to the trustee, who then distributes the funds to your creditors.

With financed furniture in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you have the option to include the debt in your repayment plan. This means you'll continue making payments on the furniture throughout your bankruptcy case. However, the payment terms might be modified, and the interest rate could be adjusted. This can be a viable option if you want to keep the furniture and can afford the modified payments.

The Impact of Bankruptcy on Your Credit Report

Filing for bankruptcy will negatively impact your credit score. However, the extent of the impact and how long it lasts can vary depending on various factors, including your credit history before bankruptcy and your financial behavior after bankruptcy. While a bankruptcy filing will remain on your credit report for several years, it's important to remember that it's not a permanent mark. By making responsible financial decisions after bankruptcy, such as paying bills on time and maintaining a low credit utilization ratio, you can gradually rebuild your credit.

Common Misconceptions about Bankruptcy and Secured Debts

There are several misconceptions surrounding bankruptcy and secured debts, including financed furniture:

  • Misconception 1: All debts are wiped out in bankruptcy. While bankruptcy can discharge most unsecured debts, secured debts like financed furniture are treated differently.

  • Misconception 2: You'll automatically lose your financed furniture in bankruptcy. This is not always the case. You have options to keep the furniture through reaffirmation or redemption.

  • Misconception 3: You can't get new credit after bankruptcy. While it might be more challenging, it's not impossible to obtain credit after bankruptcy. Many lenders offer secured credit cards and other products designed for individuals rebuilding their credit.

Specific Considerations for Financed Furniture in St. Paul, Minnesota

Minnesota's exemption laws play a significant role in determining what property you can protect in bankruptcy. For example, Minnesota's personal property exemption allows you to exempt up to $5,000 in household goods and furnishings. If your financed furniture falls within this exemption limit, it's generally safe from creditors in a bankruptcy case. However, if the furniture exceeds the exemption amount, the trustee might be able to sell it to repay your creditors. A local bankruptcy attorney can help you understand these exemptions and how they apply to your specific situation.

an image showing credit card and debit card used for paying bills for property

The Bankruptcy Process with Financed Furniture: A Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Gather Your Documents: Collect all the relevant documents related to your financed furniture, including the purchase contract, loan agreement, and payment history.

  2. Consult with a Bankruptcy Attorney: Discuss your options with a bankruptcy attorney in St. Paul, Minnesota. They can help you determine the best course of action based on your specific circumstances.

  3. File Your Bankruptcy Petition: Once you decide to file for bankruptcy, your attorney will prepare and file the necessary paperwork with the bankruptcy court.

  4. Attend the 341 Meeting of Creditors: This is a mandatory meeting where you answer questions under oath about your financial affairs. Your attorney will be present to guide you through the process.

  5. Deal with Your Secured Debt: If you choose to reaffirm your debt, redemption, or surrender, your attorney will help you complete the necessary paperwork and communicate with the creditor.

  6. Complete the Bankruptcy Process: Once your case is complete, you'll receive a discharge of your dischargeable debts, including any unsecured debt associated with your financed furniture.

Reaffirming a Car Loan: A Case Study

Let's consider a hypothetical scenario: John, a resident of St. Paul, Minnesota, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. He had a car loan with a balance of $15,000, but his car was only worth $10,000. After consulting with his bankruptcy attorney, John decided to reaffirm his car loan because he needed the car for work and the monthly payments were manageable. By reaffirming the loan, John kept his car and continued making payments according to the original loan terms.

The Impact of Reaffirmation on Your Credit

While reaffirmation allows you to keep your financed furniture, it's important to understand that it comes with certain risks. If you fail to make the agreed-upon payments after reaffirmation, the creditor can repossess the furniture and hold you personally liable for the remaining debt. This means that if the furniture is sold for less than the amount you owe, you'll be responsible for paying the difference.

Negotiating with Creditors: The Role of Your Bankruptcy Attorney

One of the most valuable services a bankruptcy attorney can offer is their ability to negotiate with your creditors. They can often negotiate a lower interest rate, reduced payment amount, or even a settlement agreement that allows you to pay off the debt for less than the full amount owed. In some cases, creditors might even be willing to forgive a portion of the debt to avoid the hassle and expense of repossessing the furniture.

Making Informed Decisions about Your Financed Furniture

Before deciding what to do with your financed furniture during bankruptcy, it's crucial to weigh all your options carefully. Consider the furniture's value, the remaining loan balance, and your overall financial situation. Don't hesitate to seek professional guidance from a qualified bankruptcy attorney. They can help you understand the potential consequences of each decision and create a plan that aligns with your financial goals and protects your interests.

Navigating Bankruptcy: A Complex but Rewarding Journey

Filing for bankruptcy can be a complex and emotional process. However, with the right guidance and support, it can also be a transformative experience. By understanding your rights, obligations, and options, you can take control of your finances and pave the way for a brighter future. Remember, bankruptcy is not a failure but a legal tool designed to help individuals overcome financial challenges and achieve a fresh start.

Seeking Legal Counsel in St. Paul, Minnesota

If you're considering bankruptcy in St. Paul, Minnesota, and have questions about your financed furniture, don't hesitate to seek professional guidance. A local bankruptcy attorney can provide the expertise and support you need to make informed decisions and secure your financial future.

To learn more about whether it makes sense to continue paying for your furniture and household goods that were purchased on credit, come see us at our new office in St. Paul, Minnesota, or come visit us at

An image illustrating how to file bankruptcy in Minnesota while protecting your personal property.

Key Article Takeaways

While the fate of your financed furniture during bankruptcy might seem uncertain, you often have options to keep it or surrender it. Consulting with a bankruptcy attorney is the most important thing you can do to protect your interests and make the best choices for your financial well-being. Remember, bankruptcy is a legal process designed to provide debt relief and a fresh start. With the right guidance, you can navigate this process successfully and emerge with a brighter financial future. 



Topics: chapter 13 bankruptcy discharge process, Can I save after bankruptcy?, Can furniture be used as collateral?

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