Co-signer Must Pay After Debtor Files Bankruptcy
Q. I co-signed for my ex-boyfriend’s truck. He recently filed bankruptcy and included the truck. The lender now says I have to pay. Doesn’t bankruptcy mean you don’t have to pay?
A. You are correct that the effect of bankruptcy is to “discharge” debts. This means that after bankruptcy the person who filed bankruptcy no longer owes the money. Bankruptcy, however, does not affect a co-signer or guarantor. In fact, one of the reasons a creditor asks for a co-signer is to protect itself in the even the debtor files bankruptcy. The bottom line is that your ex-boyfriend no longer owes the money, but you do.
Q. Can I be fired for something I posted on Facebook? I came into work and my boss said he read my Facebook page and I could start looking for another job.
A. In Texas, without an employment contract an employee is consider “at will.” This means that you may be fired, or quit, for any or no reason. As long as your employer did not unlawfully discriminate, for example, based on race, sex, age or religion, he has the right to fire you for things you posted on Facebook.
Q. I received a letter telling me I won a lottery. They said I would be paid $5,000 by cashier’s check as soon as I agreed to pay their fees. I was told that after I agreed, I would receive the check and could then cash it and send $1,000 to cover their processing fees. I did as requested. I received the check and deposited it in my account. After I received a credit I sent them $1,000. Now the $5,000 check has bounced and my bank wants the $1,000 I withdrew from my account back. Do I owe this money?
A. This is one version of a very common scam, and you owe the bank $1,000. Many people treat a cashier’s check as cash. In fact, a counterfeit cashier’s check is not worth the paper it is printed on.
Whenever you deposit a check, even a cashier’s check, the money is not yours until the check is finally paid. In most cases, however, your bank will give you the right to withdraw and use the funds represented by the check before the check has cleared. That means if the check ultimately bounces, your bank will debit your account for the credit it gave you, and you will owe the bank for any funds you withdrew. It is as if the bank has made you a loan, and now you must pay it back.
The bottom line is don’t spend money from a check until you are positive that the check has been paid by the bank it is drawn on. In fact, my advice is to never take a check when the person asks you to return part of the amount in cash. It may sound like a good deal, but will almost always cost you money.
Q. I have five brothers and sisters. Some of us are on better terms with our father than others. Our mother passed away last year and left everything to our father. I have been told that if my dad dies, the law requires his estate be divided equally between all the children. Is this true?
A. If your father dies without a will, his estate will be divided between all of his children. With a will, however, he has the right to dispose of his property any way he wants. For example, he can leave all of his property to his children in equal shares, or he can leave some of the children all the property and others none. In fact, the law does not require he leave any of his property to his children. The bottom line is that under Texas law, a person has the right to leave property to whomever he or she wants. The important thing is to have a will clearly spelling out how you want your property distributed after your death.
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