Will I Lose My Cell Phone if I File for Bankruptcy?
Many people realize that filing for bankruptcy comes with some strings. In particular, if you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the trustee can sell your non-exempt property and send the proceeds to your creditor.
But does this mean you will lose your cell phone? After all, it is an asset, and those are vulnerable in a liquidation bankruptcy. Fortunately, we have good news: you should be able to keep your cell phone.
List the Cell Phone as an Asset
Virtually everyone has a cell phone today. They can range from the latest iPhone to a basic pay-as-you-go model that you picked up at Walmart. However, you must disclose all your assets when you file for bankruptcy, and this includes your cell phone. Be sure to list the phone and its value on the appropriate schedule.
Disclose the Cell Phone Contract as Well
You must also list all monthly expenses when you file for bankruptcy. This includes executory contracts, such as your lease agreement and your cell phone plan. Judges now view cell phone contracts as an ordinary expense. Indeed, cell phones have now largely supplanted landlines, so a judge will definitely not view a cell phone as a luxury.
So long as you continue to stay current on your cell phone contract, you should be able to keep it. However, the contract might not be working for you. For example, the monthly bill might be too expensive, and you want to get out. Or you might be worried about the early cancellation fee if you find out that you can no longer cover your phone bill.
Typically, you can cancel executory contracts in bankruptcy, including your cell phone plan. You should carefully consider whether you want to continue or if you want to back out of it now.
Exempt the Cell Phone
A trustee will not sell any property that is exempted. Under Article 10, Section 4 of Florida’s constitution, you can exempt up to $1,000 in personal property. This can include electronics, such as your cell phone. You can also exempt up to $4,000 in anything by using the state’s wildcard exemption so long as you do not use the homestead exemption.
And what happens if you can’t use the wildcard and you used the $1,000 personal property exemption on other things? As a practical matter, the trustee won’t sell all non-exempt property. It costs time and money to sell assets, and a cell phone will not garner enough money to make selling it worthwhile. In our experience, we have never heard of a debtor losing their cell phone in a Chapter 7 liquidation.
Speak with a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Lawyer in South Florida
Many debtors have unnecessary fears about bankruptcy. Losing your cell phone is one of them. At our firm, we can help guide you through the bankruptcy process so that you retain as much of your personal property as is possible.
Contact the Plantation Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorneys at Nowack & Olson today. You can call 888-813-4737 to schedule a free consultation.