How will bankruptcy affect my joint account?

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Question:

Being burdened by a heavy consumer debt, I decided to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.  How will the bankruptcy affect the joint account I have with my partner?

Answer:

As a general rule, bankruptcy does not provide protection to joint account holders.  It discharges the debts and relieves the liability of the individual who filed for bankruptcy.  If the one sharing the joint account did not receive a discharge, he or she may still legally responsible for the debt and liable to the lenders.  A joint account holder's liability hinges on several factors.  Signing authority alone will not make him or her liable for the debts.  The interest of the bankruptcy petitioner in the joint account is deemed property belonging to the bankruptcy estate.  A joint account holder can reduce his liability by providing evidence that the petitioner's name is on the account only for purposes of convenience and that the true owner of the account is the former or that only a specific sum belongs to the petitioner.

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