Are Federal Bankruptcy Exemptions Available To Me In Georgia
In some states, if you are filing bankruptcy you can choose between state and federal bankruptcy exemptions. However, Georgia is not one of those states.
For instance, if you file bankruptcy in the state of Georgia, you must use Georgias state exemptions. However, it may be possible for you to supplement Georgias state exemptions with federal non-bankruptcy exemptions such as federal and military retirement accounts and disability payments.
Am I Eligible For Bankruptcy In Georgia
To file under Chapter 7 in Georgia you must show that your income is low enough to qualify. This is usually done using one of two “means tests.”
The first means test is simple: If your household income is less than the median household income for similarly sized households in your state, you qualify. .For example, U.S. Census data shows that the median income for a three-person Georgia household was $75,460 as of November 2020. That means that if you live in a three-person household that has less than $75,460 in income, you will qualify under Chapter 7 in Georgia.
If your household income is above the Georgia median, you can still qualify under Chapter 7 based on your disposable income. Your monthly disposable income is calculated by subtracting your monthly expenses from your monthly income. If the calculation shows that you have little disposable income each month, you can file under Chapter 7.
To file under Chapter 13 you will need to show that you have a steady income and unsecured debt of no more than $419,275. Your secured debt can’t total more than $1.26 million.
Do I Have Any Other Options Besides Filing Bankruptcy In Georgia
Bankruptcy | July 6, 2021 | Christopher Ross Morgan
Until recently, a number of very attractive bankruptcy alternatives were available in Georgia. Unfortunately these options arent nearly as attractive as they were in 2015. While there are other option besides filing for bankruptcy in Athens and Georgia, you should weigh them carefully. Not filing bankruptcy because you feel embarrassed could lead to more financial woes.
The Supreme Court has issued a string of decisions, capped by 2017s Midland Funding v. Johnson, which have given unprecedented power to creditors and debt collectors.
No one wants to file for bankruptcy. However, for many people dealing with constant financial stress, filing for a Georgia bankruptcy is a very good alternative to the status quo. Of course, before filing for bankruptcy, you should be sure that it is the best option for you and your family.
Furthermore, there are several different types of bankruptcy. Some have less impact on your credit score than others. Additionally, some are easier to recover from than others. More on that below as well.
The bottom line is that if you are under financial duress, you have a number of bankruptcy and non-bankruptcy options. An experienced Athens bankruptcy lawyer can evaluate your case and lay out your legal options in plain English, carefully explaining the pros and cons of each one. The more information you have, the better decision you will make, and the brighter your familys future will be.
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Protecting Property In Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Cases
Liquidation is subject to what are called exemptions in bankruptcy. Although bankruptcy law is a federal law, each state may choose to use its own exemptions. In Georgia, a debtor in bankruptcy may exempt up to $21,500.00 for real estate in which the debtor resides under the homestead exemption. Georgia bankruptcy exemptions also protect vehicles, 401s, IRAs, or other retirement plans, some cash, and household goods and furnishings in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case.
You may wonder how a $21,500.00 homestead exemption can protect your house in Chapter 7 if your house has a higher fair market value. The trustee will not be interested in selling your home if it does not have equity. For example, if your home has a fair market value of $100,000, and you have a mortgage in the amount of $110,000, then the mortgage companys interest in the home exceeds the value of the home. Thus, if the trustee sold your home, the trustee would not receive a net profit. In that situation, you would not even need that homestead exemption to keep your home. Under the same scenario, if your mortgage was only $78,500.00, then you would have to apply the $21,500.00 homestead exemption to protect your home from sale.
How Many Chapters Of Bankruptcy Are There In Georgia And Which One Do I File
There are four federal chapters of bankruptcy, all with the same goal of relieving debt for either overwhelmed individuals or businesses. The options that exist for people and companies who seek to file bankruptcy can be complex and difficult to grasp on your own. They should always be explored with the expert help of your Columbus, Georgia bankruptcy attorneyRead more
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Preventing Bankruptcy Exemption Problems
Exempt your property carefully. The bankruptcy trusteethe court-appointed official assigned to manage your casewill review the exemptions. A trustee who disagrees with your exemptions will likely try to resolve the issue informally. If unsuccessful, the trustee will file an objection with the bankruptcy court, and the judge will decide whether you can keep the property.
Example. Mason owns a rare, classic car worth $15,000, but the state vehicle exemption doesn’t cover it entirely. Believing that the car qualifies as artat least in his mindMason exempts it using his state’s unlimited artwork exemption. The trustee disagrees with Mason’s characterization and files an objection with the court. The judge will likely decide the vehicle doesn’t qualify as art.
Purposefully making inaccurate statements could be considered fraudulent. Bankruptcy fraud is punishable by up to $250,000, 20 years in prison, or both.
Filing For Chapter 13 Bankruptcy: The Process In Georgia
Talk to a bankruptcy lawyer about your situation. They will guide you through the process.
First, youll need to complete a means test, providing your income on a form. Means tests are also used to calculate how much disposable income you have every month once necessities are paid for, and thus how much you can afford to pay toward debts every month.
Second, file a petition for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. You also need to file a payment plan with the court at this time.
Third, receive an immediate stay of collection from creditors. This happens right when you file. They can no longer contact you about your debts.
Fourth, attend a Meeting of Creditors. A trustee will review your finances to verify that your proposed payment plan makes sense: that you can both maintain your household and pay your debts.
Fifth, a confirmation hearing takes place in court. The judge listens to your case. If creditors make any objections, they are heard at that time.
Sixth, the court issues a confirmation. If creditors have objected during the confirmation hearing, any issues need to be resolved before the confirmation can be issued.
Seventh, begin repairing your credit score.
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Georgia Legal Aid Organizations
Legal aid in Georgia includes a few organizations that can assist you when filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Legal Aid Atlanta, in addition to their headquarters in Atlanta, serve the counties of Clayton, S. Fulton, Cobb, DeKalb and Gwinnett. Additionally, folks outside of Atlanta can turn to the Georgia Legal Aid or Georgia Legal Services to get help. Finally, if you are a member of the military, the State Bar of Georgia can connect you with an attorney that is willing to provide free or reduced-fee legal services as part of its Military Legal Assistance Program.
Chapter 7 Trustee Duties
In Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Georgia, a trustee is assigned to your case. The trustee is assigned to your case for the purpose of ensuring that all of your creditors are treated fairly. The trustee looks at the list of your assets and your liabilities to determine if you have any assets that can be sold to pay back creditors. If you do have assets that can be sold, the trustee will sell those assets and pay your creditors back on a pro rata basis with the proceeds of the sale. Although liquidation may be common in a business Chapter 7 bankruptcy, this type of liquidation normally does not happen in a typical consumer Chapter 7 case.
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Is Bankruptcy An Answer To Debt Relief
A Disability May Occur To Anyone At Any Point In Time causing serious medical debt
A disability may occur to anyone at any point in time, but the gaping fact is the treatment and costs associated with medical treatment from a doctor or hospital. The treatment of a person may be quite expensive. The person may not have enough and may have to take loans to get treated. The loan could mount to more than a person will make in their entire lifetime and make it difficult for the person to ever clear their debts. Getting a disability benefit may help him swing through the daily chores and monthly living but will not help him clear the loans and get a fresh start from the debt. With disability, the person cannot be employed for gainful income and hence is left with little or no resources to clear the debt. People stuck in such problems can opt for filing a bankruptcy case.
There are two chapters in the USA court that allows the debtor to file a case under bankruptcyChapter 7 & Chapter 13. The applicant needs to fill out the form above describing his / her situation and the need as per their requirement, the legal representatives will offer suggestions will offer free bankruptcy advice during the consultation and the cost to file for bankruptcy.
Us Trustee Program Extends Telephonic Or Video Section 341 Meetings
The U.S. Trustee Program has extended the requirement that section 341 meetings be conducted by telephone or video appearance to all cases filed during the period of the Presidents Proclamation on Declaring a National Emergency Concerning the Novel Coronavirus Disease Outbreak issued March 13, 2020, and ending on the date that is 60 days after such declaration terminates. However, the U.S. Trustee may approve a request by a trustee in a particular case to continue the section 341 meeting to an in-person meeting in a manner that complies with local public health guidance, if the U.S. Trustee determines that an in-person examination of the debtor is required to ensure the completeness of the meeting or the protection of estate property. This policy may be revised at the discretion of the Director of the United States Trustee Program.
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Northern District Of Georgia Requirements
The Northern District is the largest judicial district in Georgia and covers the 56 counties in northern Georgia. If you live in the Northern District, your case will be assigned to one of its four divisions. The county you live in will determine whether your Georgia bankruptcy case will be heard in the Atlanta, Gainesville, Newnan or Rome division.
Since it covers so many counties, the Northern District makes figuring out your division easy with a color coded map. The Northern District requires certain local bankruptcy forms that are the same in all divisions. If youâre filing without a bankruptcy attorney, make sure to file the Pro Se Affidavit required in this District.
As of October 15, 2020, anyone filing in the Northern District of Georgia can pay the court filing fee using this online system.
Georgia Bankruptcy Lawyer Cost
If youâre thinking about a Georgia bankruptcy, youâre probably wondering how much bankruptcy attorneys charge. Typically, the cost of a bankruptcy lawyer ranges somewhere between $649 and $1,500, depending on where you live and how complex your case is. Scheduling a free consultation with a local bankruptcy law firm canât hurt. If there is anything that may be unusual about your case, investing in a Georgia bankruptcy lawyer may be money well spent. They can help protect you from issues you may not even know exist until the trustee asks you about them.
On the other hand, if you don’t have any fancy assets you want to protect, the wildcard exemption can make filing without an attorney pretty straightforward. Upsolveâs free tool may be able to help you to prepare your bankruptcy forms and avoid the cost of a bankruptcy lawyer.
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The Chapter 7 341 Hearing Or Meeting Of Creditors
After you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case in Georgia, there is normally one hearing known as the 341 Meeting of Creditors, where the trustee and creditors can ask you questions. The trustees questions are typically aimed to see if you have any assets that can be sold to repay creditors. The trustee also conducts an examination to see if any fraudulent transfers of property were made prior to filing. Creditors have the right to appear at the hearing and ask you questions. However, it is rare that creditors appear at this meeting of creditors.
Attend Your 341 Meeting
The 341 meeting is a meeting with the trustee that takes place about 30 – 40 days after your Georgia bankruptcy is filed – you can find the exact date and time on your Form 309A. A primary purpose of the meeting is for the trustee to verify your identity, so make sure you are prepared and bring a valid picture ID and proof of your social security number.
In most cases, the 341 meeting takes only a few minutes and most folks walk out of the meeting relieved that it’s over but also surprised about how straightforward everything was. Your creditors can attend the 341 meeting to ask you questions about information in your bankruptcy forms. Donât worry though, most 341 meetings are completed without any creditors showing up.
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Can A Trust Protect My Assets If I Declare Bankruptcy
A trust can protect your assets if you have to , depending on the type of trust you have. Assets in revocable living trusts can be seized by an individual’s creditors if he or she files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Assets in an irrevocable trust cannot be seized. This is because of the difference in the assets’ ownership in each of these trust types.
Generally, individuals set up trusts to keep their assets out of the probate process upon their deaths. A trust allows an asset to transfer directly to a beneficiary without subjecting it to the costs and complications of probate, the legal process of determining beneficiaries and transferring a deceased individual’s assets to them. Individuals also sometimes create trusts to lower their beneficiaries’ estate tax burdens. Below are deeper explanations of each type of trust and what can happen to the assets contained within if you file for bankruptcy. For further information about each type of trust and how it can benefit you, speak with your financial adviser or your bankruptcy lawyer.
Revocable Living Trusts
A revocable living trust can be modified by the individual who opened the trust at any time, for any reason. This includes the right to close the trust. For the rest of your life, the assets contained in a revocable living trust are your property, which means that they can be seized by a creditor if you file for bankruptcy.
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The Arrival Of The Covid
Bankruptcy filings have slowed somewhat due to government regulations placing a hold on foreclosures and evictions in some cases. Employees that arent working because of layoffs dont have a paycheck that can be garnished. I have no doubt that when people get back to work, creditors will resume collection activities and we will be ready to help…Read more
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Can I Sell Things Before Filing Bankruptcy In Georgia
While you can sell things, its advisable to speak with an attorney before doing so. Any transfers prior to filing bankruptcy must be disclosed in the petition, which can raise a red flag. Its not as big of a deal if you receive fair market value for example, if you sell your home for fair market value and then file bankruptcy, it will be disclosed in the petition showing the home sold for actual value. Speak with an attorney before selling items for less than value or selling items to family members prior to filing bankruptcy…Read more
How Do I Choose The Right Attorney For A Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
One of the questions that we are constantly asked is, how do you choose the right attorney? I would suggest that you research and check on the credentials of the attorney. You want to make sure in Georgia that, if youre choosing an attorney to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, that attorney has experience in Chapter 7 bankruptcies, Chapter 13 bankruptcies, and what we call consumer bankruptcies. You want to make sure that they know all the ins and out, that they know the trustee, that they know the judges, that they know the rules so that youre not caught unprepared. If you have any questions, please give our office a call. We will gladly provide you whatever information you need concerning the filing of a Chapter 7.
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Filing For Chapter 7 Bankruptcy In Georgia
In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, many of your debts can be forgiven. You need to earn below a certain income threshold to qualify, however and if you have any assets of value, some may have to be sold to pay off your creditors.
The process can take four to six months if you have a relatively simple case. Here are a few key benchmarks in the process.
Filing your petition and getting a bankruptcy stay. The first thing that happens is youll file a petition for bankruptcy with the Federal Bankruptcy Court and receive a case number.
Immediately after you file, the court will issue a bankruptcy stay or protection from collections. That means creditors have to stop calling you for the duration of the proceeding.
The stay will be sent to creditors via the mail, and your reprieve should start almost immediately.
The Meeting of Creditors. Within a month or so of your filing, youll have to sit through a Meeting of Creditors. Chapter 7 filers usually dont go in front of a judge this is likely the only meeting youll have to attend.
In most circumstances, the only person at the meeting will be your court-appointed trustee. This person will look over your paperwork, ask questions about your finances, look into any possibility of fraud, and determine whether you qualify for Chapter 7.
These lenders and creditors have the right to do this, because youre seeking to discharge what you owe them as part of your bankruptcy.
However, it isnt a common occurrence.