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 event the debtor files for 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 considered “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 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.

Q. If a neighbor has very tall trees that are dying or dead and have the potential to cause significant damage to surrounding homes should they fall due to high winds, who is liable for the damage if they fall on a neighbor’s property?

A. A neighbor can be responsible for damage caused by trees if the neighbor was negligent and that is why the damage occurs. For example, the neighbor has a duty to act reasonably to protect others from being damaged by his property. This means the neighbor must prune or remove dead trees that he knows could easily blow down in a storm. If he didn’t cut the tree and it fell on your property during a moderate wind, the neighbor would be responsible for your damage. On the other hand, you must prove that the damage occurred because of the neighbor’s negligence, and would not have otherwise occurred.

Q. I have not paid my last month’s rent due to saving money to get into a new house. My landlord came in my house without contacting me and left an eviction letter that I must be out in three days. Is this right? Did he break the law by entering while I was gone? Can he evict me? This is the first month I have missed.

A. If you don’t pay rent you can be evicted, and the landlord has the right to enter your house. He cannot, however, just throw you out. To evict you he will need to go to court, and you will be served papers by the sheriff or constable. You have some time but not a lot to get out. If you do not leave when the court orders you to, the constable will take all your property and store it at your expense. I suggest you leave as soon as possible to avoid the eviction.

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