How to Keep Your Home When Filing for Bankruptcy

When faced with significant financial challenges, the thought of declaring bankruptcy can be daunting. One of the most common concerns is whether you’ll be able to retain your home. This comprehensive guide explores how to keep your home when filing for bankruptcy, providing valuable insights and practical solutions for those navigating this complex issue.

Understanding Bankruptcy and Its Implications

Bankruptcy is a legal process that provides relief to individuals or businesses burdened by unmanageable debt. While it can offer a fresh start, it also brings certain repercussions, particularly on your assets, which may include your home.

Debunking Misconceptions

A common misconception is that declaring bankruptcy inevitably results in the loss of your home. However, this is not always the case. There are certain exemptions and strategies that can help protect your residence while you navigate through the bankruptcy process.

Your Home and Bankruptcy: Key Considerations

Gauging the impact of bankruptcy on your home requires understanding several factors, including the nature of your debt, the equity in your home, and the existing bankruptcy laws in your region.

Assessing Your Debt Type

Debts can be classified into two main categories: secured and unsecured. Secured debts are tied to an asset, like a mortgage to a house, while unsecured debts include credit card debts, medical bills, and personal loans. In bankruptcy, it’s crucial to keep up with secured debt repayments to prevent foreclosure.

Evaluating Your Home Equity

Home equity is the difference between your home’s current market value and the remaining balance on your mortgage. If you’ve built substantial equity in your home, it might be at risk in bankruptcy. However, certain exemptions can protect a portion of this equity.

Understanding Bankruptcy Laws

The laws governing bankruptcy vary by region. For example, in Ontario, Canada, there’s an equity exemption of $10,783 on your principal residence. This means that you can protect this amount of equity from your creditors when you file for bankruptcy.

Strategies for Keeping Your Home During Bankruptcy

If you’re contemplating bankruptcy but want to keep your home, there are several strategies you can consider.

Filing for Bankruptcy with Care

By carefully timing your bankruptcy filing and efficiently managing your finances, you may be able to keep your home. The key is to prioritize secured debt repayments, like your mortgage, over unsecured debts.

Leveraging Your Home Equity

If your home’s equity exceeds the exemption limit, you might have to pay the overage into your bankruptcy estate or sell your home to cover the difference. However, an accurate property appraisal can help you assess your situation more accurately.

Exploring Debt Relief Options

Alternatives to bankruptcy, like a consumer proposal, can help you keep your home. Consumer proposals allow you to pay back a portion of your debt over time, without interest charges.

The Role of Licensed Insolvency Trustees

Licensed Insolvency Trustees (LITs) can offer invaluable assistance in helping you navigate bankruptcy. They can provide advice tailored to your unique financial situation and guide you through the entire process.

The Potential Need to Sell Your Home

In certain situations, selling your home might be the most feasible option. For example, if you’ve bought a house that stretches your finances thin, selling could ease your financial burden.

The Impact of Bankruptcy on Your RRSP Home Buyers Plan

Your RRSP Home Buyers Plan might also be affected by bankruptcy. Even if you declare bankruptcy, you’re still required to repay the funds you withdrew through the Home Buyers Plan. Failure to do so could lead to a higher tax bill.

Refinancing Debt with Home Equity: A Word of Caution

While refinancing your debts using home equity might seem like an attractive option, it’s crucial to remember that you’re converting unsecured debt into secured debt. If you fail to keep up with your payments, you risk foreclosure on your home.

The Possibility of Filing Bankruptcy with No Assets

Even individuals with no non-exempt assets can file for bankruptcy. In such cases, their creditors are required to write off their outstanding debt, offering a way out of financial distress.

Taking the First Step Towards Financial Freedom

Embarking on the journey towards financial freedom begins with taking the first step. If you’re overwhelmed by debt and are considering bankruptcy, reaching out to a Licensed Insolvency Trustee can offer the guidance and support you need.

How to keep your home when filing for bankruptcy isn’t as daunting a task as it might initially seem. With careful planning, the right information, and the right professional help, you can navigate this challenging situation and secure a brighter financial future.

Remember, bankruptcy is not the end of the world. It’s a legal process designed to help individuals overcome financial distress and regain control over their finances. With the right approach, you can emerge from bankruptcy stronger and more financially savvy than before.

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