Bankruptcy in Georgia
While it's always important to work with a qualified bankruptcy lawyer, it's even more important if you live in Georgia. Why? Because as a Georgia resident, the amount of property that you can protect and still benefit from bankruptcy protections is one of the lowest in the country.
Is there good news? Absolutely. It's your lawyer's job to protect as many of your assets as possible and there are legal ways to do so. More than meets the eye.
Below, we'll demonstrate how Georgia bankruptcy law differs from the laws of other states; discuss whether you should file Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy; and show you how to select and work with a bankruptcy lawyer.
How Georgia Bankruptcy Law Differs from the Laws of Other States
While federal law dictates how your bankruptcy case is handled and your bankruptcy filings will be made in federal court, federal exemptions (the property you can keep) don't apply to Georgia cases.
Instead, unlike many other states, there is no choice between federal and state exemptions. You may only use state exemptions to protect your property. And, as mentioned above, the Georgia exemptions are not generous. Some would say, the Georgia exemptions are peanuts (wink and nod).
- For example, the exemption for your house is only $10,000 for an individual or $20,000 for a married couple, filing jointly.
- In addition, you can protect $3,500 of equity in a car (or $7,000 for a married couple).
- If you don't own a home, the homestead exemption can be used to protect other assets.
Working with a qualified bankruptcy attorney guarantees that you will protect as many assets as possible. Going it alone may cost you thousands or tens of thousands of dollars if just one mistake is made.
Your Choices in Filing Bankruptcy in Georgia: Chapter 7 or Chapter 13
When an individual or married couple files for bankruptcy protection, there is a choice between filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
- Both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 offer bankruptcy protection, an end to creditor harassment, and a clean slate.
- Most folks prefer to file under Chapter 7, if they qualify, because all unsecured debts such as credit card bills, medical bills, and personal loans are wiped out. They never have to be repaid.
- Under Chapter 13, some debts are discharged, while others are renegotiated; then repaid over a three to five year period.
Your bankruptcy attorney will help you to determine whether bankruptcy is right for you. Then, he or she will guide you through either a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 filing.
How to Select a Bankruptcy Attorney
Most bankruptcy attorneys will offer a free in person or phone consultation so you can determine whether that attorney is a good fit for you. It's okay to ask questions. Research attorneys who focus their practice on bankruptcy law; both loved ones and the Internet are great resources.
How to Prepare to Work with a Bankruptcy Attorney
Organize the seemingly endless pile of bills, debts, payments, and income records. Preparing to file bankruptcy is labor intensive but the pay off is very big.
As soon as your bankruptcy petition is filed and accepted by the court, all creditor harassment will cease and you will feel better.
There isn't a lot of work for you to do after your petition is filed. The best advice we can give is to trust your lawyer and follow his or her advice.
Where to Get Help Filing Bankruptcy
A bankruptcy attorney will:
- Let you know whether bankruptcy is appropriate for your individual situation, or not.
- Answer your questions and address your concerns.
- Stop creditor harassment.
- Help you qualify for Chapter 7 so more debts are discharged, if legally possible.
- Protect as many of your assets as legally possible.
- Guide you through the bankruptcy process.
- Help you to get a fresh start.