Case study: Ben

Secured car debts in bankruptcy

Ben is a 31 year old delivery driver. He lives in Launceston, Tasmania and earns $55,000 per year. He has credit card debts of about $48,000.

Ben is paying off a 2011 Holden Combo van worth $10,000. To buy it, he borrowed money from Island Bank who registered a security over the van on the Personal Property Securities Register. Ben currently owes Island Bank $9,000.

Ben finds his debts crippling. He has done some research and thinks bankruptcy would be his best option.

Before filing for bankruptcy he completes AFSA's bankruptcy consequences tool and then creates an Insolvency Services account so he can apply online.

Ben’s main concern about going bankrupt is that he does not want to lose his van. He needs this for his job. He does not want to put details of the van and the loan on his Bankruptcy Form. Ben rings AFSA to get more information. AFSA tells Ben that it’s important to list all his debts and assets on his Bankruptcy Form and there are penalties for not doing so. They also tell Ben that if he forgets to include any debts, he must tell his trustee as soon as he becomes aware of them.

AFSA tells Ben that the trustee will decide whether to take his van based on its ‘equity’. The ‘equity’ is how much the van is worth, minus what is owed to the secured creditor (Island Bank). Ben’s van is worth $10,000 and he owes $9,000. The equity in his van is $1,000 which is below the limit*. In this instance, the trustee cannot claim the van. If he stops paying off the loan, however, Island Bank could repossess the van.

If Ben’s situation changes in the future and he can no longer keep up the loan payments, Ben could surrender the van to the bank. If this did happen, any money still owing on the loan would be covered by his bankruptcy and Island Bank could not pursue Ben for the debt.

*The limit is updated each financial year. You can find the latest limits at Indexed Amounts

*These case studies do not constitute legal or financial advice. You should consider whether the options referred to in the case studies are appropriate for you, and seek advice if necessary, before taking any action.