Can a creditor ask a debtor to reaffirm a debt?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 15, 2021

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Yes, this means that the creditor is asking that the debtor pay the debt anyway, even though it is eligible to be discharged in bankruptcy. A debtor may be willing to do this if there is a co-signer or guarantor of the debt (such as a family member, friend or employer) that the debtor does not wish to leave saddled with the debt. Also, a debtor may want to reaffirm a debt in order to avoid having a secured creditor take the collateral securing the debt. A creditor may also ask a debtor to reaffirm the debt before he (the creditor) will agree to do business with the debtor again. This only applies in Chapter 7 consumer bankruptcy. This will not usually happen in a business Chapter 7.

The decision to reaffirm a debt is voluntary; no law requires the debtor to do it. The debtor can also choose to pay a debt that has been discharged in bankruptcy without reaffirming the debt, which means that the lender has no legal rights to collect the debt. Reaffirmation agreements can’t impose an undue burden on you or your dependents and must be in your best interest.

A debt is reaffirmed in an agreement filed with the court within 60 days after the first meeting of the creditors in the bankruptcy case, also called the 341 meeting. The bankruptcy judge must approve the agreement. To obtain approval, you will need to demonstrate that you can afford the regular payments that result from your bankruptcy plan and have the ability to make the additional payments tied to the reaffirmation agreement. Once you sign a reaffirmation agreement you have 60 days or until the judge issues the discharge order in your bankruptcy case to cancel the agreement.

It is important to remember that a reaffirmed debt is not wiped out (discharged) in bankruptcy. Once your bankruptcy order is filed and the debt is reaffirmed, you must pay the debt. If you don’t, the creditor can sue you for the balance owed or repossess the property in a secured debt.

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