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What to Expect from a Debt Perspective (Post-COVID)

Bankruptcy During Covid-19

As a bankruptcy attorney, I understand the fear and anxiety people face regarding their finances.

When you couple finances with the daily fear and anxiety the world has faced over the last ten months, some days may seem impossible. When people are most concerned about the health of themselves and their loved ones, the last thing that they should be thinking about is debt.

For some time now, I have been advocating for the fact that society needs to reframe how it thinks about bankruptcy; particularly now as the pandemic takes its toll on more and more people’s finances. I prefer to think of the bankruptcy process as a tool. While bankruptcy does carry with it a host of negative connotations, it is a problem-solving tool that has many positive aspects.

Our country is primed to realize an increase in bankruptcy filings, so perhaps it is time for people to rethink the negative stigma associated with bankruptcy.

The government funding and stimulus was designed to keep the country afloat. Funding was directed to businesses and individuals. For individuals, it was designed to assist you in maintaining daily/monthly living expenses; the essentials (rent, utilities, food).

The stimulus was not intended to allow you to pay your monthly credit card bill. Most banks and lending institutions established their own forbearance and grace periods.

These grace periods are set to expire. Whether this is a rental lease, mortgage payment, vehicle payment or credit card, the creditors will expect payment.

It is now that a fresh start might be best. Typically, individuals file Chapter 7 to wipe out all debt, or Chapter 13 to restructure and pay their debt over time.

Facing financial difficulties is stressful and overwhelming. However, you can take a positive and preemptive step now toward resolving your financial circumstances.

I can help guide you smoothly through this process. Quality representation is essential to ensure that you are protected.

Bankruptcy Exemptions In The State Of Georgia

Bankruptcy Exemptions In The State Of Georgia

Filing for bankruptcy is a decision that takes time to consider. Many factors are involved, and many people who are thinking of filing for bankruptcy are understandably worried about losing their assets. As is standard with any legal matter, reviewing Georgia’s bankruptcy code and consulting with a knowledgeable attorney are the best places to start.

It is worth noting that bankruptcy exemptions are mostly factors for people intending to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, where asset liquidation is significant. Chapter 13 bankruptcy involves rearranging your debt-load more than liquidating, but it is worth understanding exemptions just in case.

In terms of exemptions specific to Georgia, some of the exemptions that bankruptcy filers should be aware of are as follows. These are homestead exemption, personal property exemption, motor vehicle exemption, support exemption, wage exemption, public benefits exemption, tools-of-the-trade exemption, pension and retirement exemption, wildcard exemption, and insurance exemption.

The Homestead Exemption

Losing a home can be the scariest aspect for many people when considering bankruptcy. However, this exemption can allow some homeowners to keep their properties. Georgia provides an exemption of up to $21,500 per person, or $43,000 if married co-habitants file for bankruptcy together. This amount goes against the total equity held in the homestead.

The Personal Property Exemption

Georgia’s personal property exemption limit is $5,000, which ends up being higher than you might expect as most people’s items have depreciated over time and may not be worth much in resale value. Be aware that each item has a cap of $300, so while an item valued at $2,000, for example, is below the $5,000 exemption limit, it is $1,700 above the single item limit, which indicates that you should sell it.

Comparatively, an item worth $350 might cost the owner more to sell than the $50 that puts it over the limit. In this circumstance, the object usually stays in the owner’s possession.

The Wildcard Exemption

The wildcard exemption is a way for bankruptcy filers to have another opportunity to keep their assets. In Georgia, you are allowed up to $10,000 in leftover equity money unused from the homestead exemption to be applied to another exemption, along with $1,200 it provides to protect anything else.

The Motor Vehicle Exemption

The motor vehicle exemption in Georgia is up to $5,000 in equity, which means that if the owner(s) of a vehicle has less than a $5,000 stake in it, they can keep it. It is vital to be aware that the wildcard exemption also has ramifications for motor vehicle exemptions.

If you have used $10,000 or less of your homestead exemption, you can put that amount toward retaining more expensive vehicles.

The Support Exemption

An explicit exemption, Georgia protects all child support and alimony proceeds assigned by the court as necessary.

This list of exemptions is not exhaustive, and if only a few of these options apply to your situation, there may be others not listed here that do as well. Take the time to speak with us either by phone or through our website’s live chat feature to get information tailored to your needs. Bankruptcy doesn’t have to be scary, and being informed is the best way to protect yourself and your family.

Georgia Eviction Ban Set to Expire

What is the Georgia Eviction Moratorium?

The Eviction Moratorium is a ban on evictions in the state of Georgia to give relief to renters during the Covid-19 pandemic.  As most people know, the mortarium on evictions was extended to December 31, 2020. If you a residential renter (home, apartment, condominium, townhouse) and are struggling with finances, then you may be worried about eviction. 


Georgia Eviction moratorium

Bankruptcy can help you if you are facing eviction after the Eviction moratorium expires on Dec. 31st

The ban on evictions in Georgia is set to expire on December 31, 2020.

If you are behind on your rent come the new year, then your landlord may have the right to evict you. Georgia law allows a landlord to evict a tenant for not paying rent on time. You must give the tenant notice that rent is due and the tenant must refuse to pay the rent before you can file an eviction writ with the Magistrate Court. The eviction process will no doubt have a negative impact on the tenant’s credit, and he or she may not qualify to rent elsewhere.


Bankruptcy can Save you From Eviction

If a tenant files for bankruptcy prior to the entry of an eviction order, then a landlord is stayed from evicting the tenant. Timing is the most important aspect of the process because up until this point, your landlord had no legal recourse. With the lift of the ban, your landlord will most certainly be preparing to have you legally evicted if all other attempts for payment have failed.  It is important to understand the process of curing the eviction through bankruptcy and the protection you will immediately receive with what is called the “automatic stay” once you file for bankruptcy.


Curing Eviction

A tenant must file for bankruptcy protection prior to the entry of the eviction order. If the tenant fails to do so, a bankruptcy filing will be of no significance. The chapter of bankruptcy will determine what happens on the back side of filing. If a tenant’s goal is to remain in the property for the balance of the lease term, they will want to file a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.

A Chapter 13 Bankruptcy will allow the tenant to cure the lease arrearage through a Chapter 13 Plan. The Bankruptcy rules will allow the tenant to cure these arrears over a “reasonable period of time.”

While Georgia law allows a landlord to refuse late rental payments that could cure an eviction, the landlord may simply agree to accept payment and allow the tenant to stay. 


Automatic Stay Protection

Once the bankruptcy is filed, you will be immediately under protection from the automatic stay.  A landlord is prevented from continuing with the eviction process in Magistrate Court if the tenant has filed for bankruptcy. The landlord must seek relief from the bankruptcy stay in order to proceed with the eviction in the Magistrate Court.

There are several criteria that a landlord must meet in order to obtain relief from the bankruptcy court. However, provided that the Chapter 13 plan is filed in good faith, and provides for the curing of the arrearage in a reasonable time, the tenant can expect the bankruptcy stay to remain in place.

If you are facing eviction in Georgia, then you need to speak with Attorney Matthew Cherney of Cherney Law Firm. He is dedicated to helping tenants just like you avoid eviction, and get you through your bankruptcy seamlessly. Contact Cherney Law Firm today for more information!

During these uncertain times, we are pleased to announce that we are offering FREE VIDEO COSULTATIONS. In addition to that, it is now possible to file for bankruptcy from the safety of your own home.