I want to surrender my car. When do I do it?

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Written by Kristin Turner.  
Updated January 2, 2020

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"Surrendering" your car means that you give it back to the lender that you financed it with. If you surrender your car, any debt that you owe on it will be forgiven when you receive your bankruptcy discharge.

If you would like to surrender your car, you must:

  1. let the bankruptcy court and the lender know on your "Statement of Intention" forms,

  2. wait for the court to authorize the lender to repossess the car, and then

  3. make the car available for the lender to repossess. They can either come and get it from you or you can bring it to them at an agreed location. There is no hard and fast rule, but most creditors will try to repossess the car a few weeks after the court authorizes them to do so.

If you would like to learn more about the pros and cons of surrendering your car during bankruptcy, check out this article. If you originally planned on keeping the car and reaffirming your obligation to pay the loan but changed your mind, take these steps to make sure you're fully protected.

What you choose to do with your car in your bankruptcy is entirely up to you, and a choice that made sense for someone else may not make sense for you. We at Upsolve do not recommend any particular way forward, but we hope that this article and others we have written on the topic of secured debt gives you the tools you need to make an informed decision.

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Upsolve is a 501(c)(3) legal aid nonprofit that started in 2016. Our mission is to help low-income Americans in financial distress get a fresh start through Chapter 7 bankruptcy at no cost. We do this by combining the power of technology with attorneys. Spun out of Harvard Law School, our team includes lawyers, engineers, and judges. We have mission-driven funders that include the U.S. government, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, and private charities.

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