Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: What is Collateral Bankruptcy Services, LLC (or “CBS”)?
A: Collateral Bankruptcy Services is a consulting and service company that, in part, provides Chapter 7 Trustees, debtors, and debtor’s counsel with assistance in lawfully towing and storing collateral no longer desired to be kept by the debtor.
Q: Why do I, as a trustee, care about “underwater” surrendered vehicles in a chapter 7 debtor’s bankruptcy schedules?
A: To eliminate both vicarious liability and exposure to the estate. As the Chapter 7 Trustee, you have a fiduciary duty to maximize the non-exempt assets of the estate and are charged with making prudent business decisions in the process. Florida is a vicarious liability state and if a vehicle belonging to the estate (still in possession of the debtor, post-petition) were to cause bodily injury or other damages to a third party, the estate could be vicariously liable for such damages. So, when the assets of a debtor’s bankruptcy estate include an over-encumbered (i.e., “underwater”) vehicle that remains in the possession of the debtor, the prudent act of formally abandoning the underwater vehicle and having it lawfully and safely secured by a towing and storage company like Collateral Bankruptcy Services is important and appropriate. Formally abandoning and securing underwater vehicles is particularly important where the estate has other assets (i.e., an asset case) to administer.
Q: How does the estate benefit from having surrendered “underwater” vehicles towed and stored? What is in it for me?
A: Using Collateral Bankruptcy Services helps to eliminate vicarious liability and exposure to the bankruptcy estate. See more detailed answer immediately above for more information on this topic.
Q: If my case is a “no asset” chapter 7 case, is there still any benefit to the estate in hiring Collateral Bankruptcy Services to secure, tow and store the surrendered “underwater” vehicle?
A: Yes. 11 U.S.C. § 704(a)(3) states that the duties of the Chapter 7 Trustee include the duty to “ensure that the debtor shall perform his intention as specified in § 521(a)(2)(B) (i.e., the Statement of Intentions). So, when a chapter 7 debtor states that he or she intends to surrender an underwater vehicle to the creditor in his or her bankruptcy case, the Chapter 7 Trustee has an affirmative duty to ensure such a surrender occurs. Having a towing and storage company like Collateral Bankruptcy Services coordinate the pickup of the surrendered underwater vehicle and deliver it to the secured creditor in strict accordance with applicable state law is the best way to fulfill your duty as Chapter 7 Trustee. In short, there is a benefit to the estate and a duty that you owe.
Q: Is a formal abandonment of the surrendered vehicle necessary when employing Collateral Bankruptcy Services to secure the vehicle?
A: Yes. The surrendered vehicle remains property of the bankruptcy estate until it is removed and repossessed and ultimately transferred to its next owner. As such, until removed, the estate has potential liability and the Chapter 7 Trustee has a statutory duty undertake in making sure the debtor follows through on his or her stated intentions. Collateral Bankruptcy Services will do the work to eliminate that liability and discharge that duty with no time spent or out of pocket cost. To that end, Collateral Bankruptcy Services will draft and provide to the Chapter 7 Trustee a Notice of Abandonment and executed Certificate of Service for consideration, filing and service. Once the vehicle is abandoned and no longer property of the Bankruptcy estate, CBS will then arrange to both pick up the surrendered vehicle and provide the lienholder additional notice of the debtor's intentions regarding the collateral. All of this is done at no cost to the Trustee. Collateral Bankruptcy Services founding members have extensive legal experience in both bankruptcy law and debtor-creditor law and understand the time and cost savings associated with having the Notice of Abandonment drafted and provided on behalf of the Chapter 7 Trustee. It is CBS's hope that being able to provide this additional, value-added service to the Chapter 7 Trustee and estate, at no additional cost and with little to no time expended, will help further separate Collateral Bankruptcy Services from our competitors and provide a more efficient experience for the Chapter 7 Trustee.
Q: Do I need to file an application to employ Collateral Bankruptcy Services prior to performing its services?
A: No. Collateral Bankruptcy Services will not be seeking fees or costs from the bankruptcy estate at any point in time. Accordingly, an application to employ Collateral Bankruptcy Services is not necessary. Instead, Collateral Bankruptcy Services generates its income on the towing and storage fees lawfully charged to the secured creditor pursuant to state and local laws. The benefit of having the surrendered vehicle preserved for the secured creditor is consistent with your duty as Chapter 7 Trustee to ensure debtors are indeed surrendering their vehicles consistent with the instruction provided by 11 U.S.C. § 704(a)(3).
Q: Does the estate have to pay Collateral Bankruptcy Services any fees for the services it provides?
A: No. As indicated above, Collateral Bankruptcy Services is paid by the secured creditor, not by the bankruptcy estate.
Q: How much does it cost the estate to have a vehicle towed?
A: Nothing. Again, there are no out-of-pocket costs to the bankruptcy estate. Collateral Bankruptcy Services collects its fees and costs from the secured creditor at the time it picks up the surrendered vehicle.
Q: Do I as Trustee need to coordinate the surrender of the vehicle with debtor?
A: No. Collateral Bankruptcy Services will do all the work to coordinate the surrender and pickup of the vehicle directly with the debtor.
Q: What do I need to do to have Collateral Bankruptcy Services pick up and secure a surrendered vehicle?
A: Provide us with:
(1) Debtor Name,
(2) Bankruptcy Case Number, and
(3) instruction to pick up the surrendered vehicle.
Upon receiving the direction from you, the Chapter 7 Trustee to secure the surrendered vehicle, and permission from the Bankruptcy Court, Collateral Bankruptcy Services will reach out to the debtor (or debtor’s counsel if they are represented by an attorney in the bankruptcy) to coordinate the surrender of the vehicle.
Q: Where and/or to whom do I send the above information?
Q: Where and when are surrendered vehicles picked up?
A: Typically at a time and place of the debtor’s choosing. It is Collateral Bankruptcy Services’ goal to amicably work with the debtor in coordinating the surrender of vehicles and the vast majority of the time the transfer of the surrendered vehicle occurs at the time and place of the debtor’s choosing. In the event that a debtor is hostile or combative to the turn-over of the surrendered vehicle, it is Collateral Bankruptcy Services’ policy to place a hold on the transfer of the vehicle and reach out to the Chapter 7 Trustee for further instruction. Collateral Bankruptcy Services only coordinates the surrender of vehicles when done so with the debtor’s consent.
Q: Will Collateral Bankruptcy Services arrange the pickup of a surrendered vehicle when the debtor does not consent to the surrender? (despite their stated intentions)
A: No. Again, Collateral Bankruptcy Services only coordinates the pick-up of surrendered vehicles when done so with the consent and participation of the debtor. We do not forcefully repossess vehicles.
Q: The secured creditor has moved to lift the “automatic stay” but I don’t know if they have actually taken possession of the surrendered vehicle. How do I know if the estate’s interests are protected? Is this a vehicle still worth pursuing?
A: Yes. Refer the case to Collateral Bankruptcy Services and a member of its staff will confirm who has possession of the surrendered vehicle. In some instances, Collateral Bankruptcy Services will find that after lifting the automatic stay the secured creditor later decided to not pick up the vehicle (e.g., the surrendered vehicle location is too far away; the value of the surrendered vehicle is so low that it didn’t justify picking it up; the debtor has been avoiding repossession and is still driving the surrendered vehicle, etc.). When any of these situations occur, the surrendered vehicle remains an exposure to the bankruptcy estate. As such, the Chapter 7 Trustee should reach out to Collateral Bankruptcy Services to have surrendered vehicle picked up and serve a formal Notice of Abandonment.
Q: Does CBS pick up collateral other than just cars? Boats, RVs, motorcycles, ATVs, etc.?
A: Yes. Collateral Bankruptcy Services will pick up just about any collateral for a loan. Boats, Recreational Vehicles (RVs), All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs), Mortorcycles and Jet Skis are all types of assets that CBS will pick up if you have decided to surrender them in your bankruptcy.