Many debtors in Georgia want to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy and totally erase debt, so a clean economical start is possible. Others opt to file Chapter 13 bankruptcy, in order to restructure their payments, so the amount owed is manageable, and they can crawl out from under massive debt. Filing for bankruptcy in Georgia is not a decision to be taken lightly. While there are certainly benefits, the consequences are long lasting.
Georgia Bankruptcy Topics
- Personal Bankruptcy Options
- Keep Your Home: Bankruptcy and Foreclosure
- Georgia Exemptions to Bankruptcy Liquidation
- Options for Filing Bankruptcy
- Georgia Bankruptcy Courts and Trustees
Personal Bankruptcy in Georgia
The majority of individuals, if opting to declare bankruptcy will file under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 of U.S. Code Title 11, which is otherwise known as Bankruptcy Code.
- Chapter 7 Bankruptcy - For Chapter 7 bankruptcy, a court appointed trustee will liquidate any non-secured assets and distribute the funds between the creditors. However, in most cases, there are not many, if any, assets left to distribute. However, to avoid people taking advantage of the law, the federal government has implemented a means test, in order to determine if the person is really in financial trouble or actually has the means to get out of debt. According to the median income data for the state of Georgia, the amount for a single wage earner is $40,760, a family of two is $54,054, and a family of three is $61,959.
- Chapter 13 Bankruptcy - Chapter 13 bankruptcy is for those individuals who do not want to lose their assets. People who want to keep their car, house, or business, but are having trouble meeting their financial obligations, can file chapter 13. Based on income, the court will determine a feasible monthly amount the debtor can repay in conjunction with negotiated settlements with creditors. Then, as long as the debtor can keep up current payments and give the court the monthly amount to satisfy past bills, the debt s will be discharged in three to five years. An individual may have no more than $922,975 in secured debt and $307,675 in unsecured debt.
Filing Bankruptcy during Foreclosure
Unfortunately, filing bankruptcy to prevent the loss of a home may not work. However, in some cases it can put a stay on the process, while the individual goes through the bankruptcy process. Nevertheless, if bankruptcy is filed exclusively to stop the procedure, the lien holder can ask the court to lift the stay. Therefore, it is best to file before foreclosure is in process. For those who are trying to keep their home and other assets, Chapter 13 would work best. Under Chapter 7, certain states allow for the liquidation of homes as well as other assets.
Georgia Bankruptcy Exemptions
In the state of Georgia, debtors may claim exemptions under the state exemptions list, as well as the federal supplemental exemptions list. Exemptions specifically allotted in the Georgia state exemptions list include:
Type of Asset(s)
Details on Applicable Exemption(s)
Real or personal property, up to $5,000 and used as residence, any part not used can be added to other property.
Annuity and endowment contract benefits, health benefits-no more than $250, group insurance, industrial insurance needed for support, life insurance, immature insurance valued at $2000 or less.
Alimony and child support
Non-profit, ERISA, public employees, and other pensions necessary for support
Books, clothing, household goods, and furniture to $200 per item, for a total of $3500, burial plot-instead of homestead, lost future earnings needed to live, jewellery valued under $500, old car worth $1000 or less, wrongful death compensation,
Social Security, disability assistance, victims compensation, public assistance, veteran’s benefits, workmen’s compensation
75% of unpaid wages-may be more if the judge determines the debtor does not have enough money
Georgia Bankruptcy Court Filing Options
- Use a Bankruptcy Lawyer - Filing bankruptcy without the legal representation of a lawyer is foolhardy at best. In any legal action, so many nuances are missed or overlooked. In many cases, it can adversely affect the outcome of the case. Filing all the necessary paperwork alone can be daunting. However, the debtor may have to go before a panel to plead his/her case for bankruptcy. The panel may include one of the creditors, the court trustee, and a layperson. A bankruptcy lawyer has the expertise to look out for the debtor’s interest, while the court simply has to be concerned with the letter of the law. Going to court without legal representation is strongly discouraged.
- Use a Filing Service - To save money, some debtors will opt to hire a filing service, to make sure all of the paperwork is properly filled out. Again, this option is not recommended. The service may not comply with all of the legal requirements. They simply fill out the forms. The service cannot offer any legal advice or represent the debtor in any way. In addition, they cannot explain the questions asked by the court during legal proceedings.
- File “Pro Se” - Often, debtors will file pro se (on their own behalf), because they cannot afford the services of a legal representative. However, in the end, the absence of a lawyer can work to the advantages of creditors and leave the debtor confused and without recourse.
Courts and Georgia Bankruptcy Trustee Information
Georgia District Court
William Augustus Bootle Federal
Bldg and U.S. Courthouse, Suite 216
475 Mulberry Street
Macon, GA 31201