He could not stand the pressure of the monthly note payments so he visited us for advice. We determined that he could not file chapter 7 bankruptcy because his house was worth too much. It appraised at $485,000 and he had paid down his mortgage to $63,000. That left $422,000 in equity. His wife owned half the house, so his share was worth $211,000, but he was entitled to a homestead exemption of only $165,000. That left $46,000 of equity that could not be protected. If we filed a chapter 7 case, the bankruptcy trustee would ask him to pay a lump-sum of $46,000, and if he could not pay it, the Trustee would sell the house.
Taxi medallion owners face overwhelming challenges these days. After they make their loan payments and operating expenses, they have nothing left to support their families. While Chapter 7 bankruptcy (surrender your medallion and wipe out your debts) works if you have no other assets, there are times when filing Chapter 7 creates too much risk.