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Handling Debt

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Georgia

Chapter 7 bankruptcy information for Georgia - Attorney Matthew Cherney

Filing For Chapter 7 in Georgia

In Georgia, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is legal proceeding asking the courts to discharge your debts. If successful, most unsecured debts will be forgiven, and the debtor gets a “fresh start”.  Once a chapter 7 is completed, the debtor is free of major debt. There are assets that you may be able to keep during and after your bankruptcy. How you structure your bankruptcy can have a major impact on the results that you get.

The State of Georgia has three United States Bankruptcy Court districts

Once you figure out which district you are living in, it is time to file. If you are uncomfortable with all of the paperwork and ramifications of improperly filing for chapter 7 by yourself, you can hire an attorney to represent you. Hiring an attorney has a distinct advantage because that is what they do. An attorney will know all of the Georgia bankruptcy laws and can prepare and file all the needed paperwork on your behalf. They are also available to answer any questions throughout and even after your bankruptcy is discharged.

 

Georgia Bankruptcy Exemptions

The purpose of filing for bankruptcy is to achieve debt relief in order to rebuild a sense of financial security.  In Georgia, exemptions in chapter 7 are very important. It is nearly impossible to do so if everything you own is taken from you during bankruptcy. Many people assume that you must lose everything including things such as your finances, your home, and your car when you file, but this is not true. According to United States Code §522, a person who files for bankruptcy may request certain exemptions, including interest on home loans and vehicles, any life insurance policies that have no yet matured, and other such assets.

It is important to note that some states will allow the person filing to choose between using Federal exemptions or state exemptions. The State of Georgia does not allow you to do this. You must use Georgia state exemptions. There are a few instances that you may be able to use federal non bankruptcy exemptions.

Some of the most common Georgia bankruptcy exemptions are homestead, vehicle, wages and personal.

 

What happens to your property?

When you file for a chapter 7, you will most likely have to give up anything that isn’t exempt under Georgia law. The bankruptcy trustee will liquidate any non-exempt assets to pay your creditors.

 

Georgia Chapter 7 Means Test

 what is the Georgia Chapter 7 Means Test

The first step in filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy is to take a means test. Unless there is proof that you cannot afford to repay your debt based on your income and other factors, you cannot file under this chapter. Your income will be measured against the median income of a family living in your state that is comparable in size to your own family. If your average income from the last 6 months is less than or equal to the median income, you will be considered eligible for Chapter 7.

In cases where your income is too high for Chapter 7, the court will determine how much disposable income you have in order to pay off some or all of your debt in a Chapter 13 plan should you choose to go that route. The court looks at your income and subtracts debt payments, living expenses and any other required payments to see what amount you can feasibly pay off each month.

Once a means test proves that you are eligible and you come up clean in all of the other areas determining eligibility, you must fill out all necessary forms and petition for property exemptions so that you can keep any necessary items, such as furniture or your car. This process is not simple, and a mistake could cause further harm, so make sure that you retain an educated Georgia bankruptcy attorney with years of experience in Chapter 7 laws and procedures. With such legal assistance, discharging your debt could result in the financial freedom that you’ve been dreaming of achieving.

 

Automatic Stay

As soon as you file for a chapter 7 bankruptcy in Georgia, an automatic stay is imposed. The Automatic stay prevents creditors from pursuing any collection efforts from that moment forward. This includes taking legal action against you.

 

Chapter 7 Trustee

You will be assigned a Georgia Chapter 7 Trustee

Once you have successfully filed for chapter 7, one of the next steps in the process is a court appointed trustee will be assigned to your case.  It is the Trustee’s job to overlook your case and go through all off the paperwork and details to make sure that there is no fraud. The Trustee will also assist in the liquidation of your assets.

It is important that all of your paperwork is  filled out correctly and that you list all of your assets. The trustee just wants to make sure that all assets will be distributed correctly. If the trustee somehow finds out that you are hiding assets, he can ask the court to deny or revoke your discharge.

 

341 Meeting

Once a trustee is assigned to your case, a 341 meeting will be scheduled. The purpose of the 341 meeting is to let the Trustee go through the paperwork you have filed. He will ask you questions about your debt and assets. Your attorney will be present with you during this meeting but cannot answer questions on your behalf. Creditors can also attend the meeting but they usually do not. It is mandatory that you appear to answer questions from the trustee about your case.   The questions asked by the trustee are all about the paperwork that you have filed. It is very important that you are honest with all of your answers. If you chose to hire an attorney, they will prepare you with everything that you need to know about what to expect at you 341 creditors meeting.

 

Georgia Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Discharge

 Last step is a Georgia Chapter 7 Bankruptcy discharge

 

A chapter 7 discharge is a permanent order from the court prohibiting creditors from taking any form of collection action on discharged debts. This includes legal action and communications with the debtor, such as telephone calls, letters, and personal contacts. While the debtor already had any temporary collection attempts halted with an automatic stay, the discharge is permanent.

The Courts will give the debtors creditors ample time (about 60 days from the 341 meeting) to file any objections. After that period has elapsed, they will send you a letter stating that your chapter 7 bankruptcy has been discharged.

 

How much does it cost to file Chapter 7 in Georgia?

The filing fee to for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in the state of Georgia is $335, the fee is set by the court and must be paid whether you have an attorney representing you or you are filing by yourself.

How do you qualify for chapter 7 in Georgia?

In order to qualify for Chapter 7, you must be below the median income level. The median income level is determined based on your household size. You must also take the means test to weigh your debt vs income

What is the maximum income for chapter 7 in Georgia?

The maximum income for chapter 7 in the state of Georgia is all dependant on the household size of the debtor(s)
1. $49,236.00
2 $63,850.00
3 $72,426.00
4 $85,763.00

What is the Chapter 7 means test?

The Chapter 7 means test determines whether an individual qualifies for Chapter 7. It breaks down your debt vs income to see if you qualify to file for chapter 7 bankruptcy relief. If you do not qualify for Chapter 7, the means test establishes what the individual may be required to pay back in Chapter 13.

Can I keep my house if I file for Chapter 7 in Georgia?

Yes, If you are current on the mortgage, you can maintain the monthly payments, and there is no equity in your home, yes

Can I keep my car if I file for Chapter 7 in Georgia?

if you are current on the payments, and you can maintain the monthly payments, yes.

Can I keep my cell phone if I file for Chapter 7 in Georgia?

Yes. There are personal exemptions that you can keep when you file for chapter 7 bankruptcy in Georgia

Can I file Chapter 7 in Georgia without my spouse?

Yes. There is no law that requires that you file jointly with your spouse if you are married.

Will Chapter 7 stop wage garnishment in Georgia?

Yes. The bankruptcy laws require that any attempts to collect a debt be stopped. This includes wage garnishments.

Can Chapter 7 stop my Car from being repossessed?

Yes. However, if you are delinquent on the loan, and unable to work out an arrangement with the vehicle lender, you won’t be able to keep the vehicle for long.

Can Chapter 7 stop Foreclosure in Georgia?

Yes, but it will only buy you time. If you are delinquent on the loan, and unable to work out an arrangement with the mortgage lender, you won’t be able to keep the home for long.

What are Chapter 7 exemptions in Georgia?

The exemptions depend on the type of property. Your homestead exemption is 21,500.00. Your vehicle exemption is 5,000.00.

 

Want to know more?

If you are considering whether a chapter 7 bankruptcy is right for you and you live in the state of Georgia, fell free to contact Cherney Law Firm. We are only a phone call or e-mail away and we can answer any questions that you have.  Cherney Law has  handled thousands of bankruptcies in Georgia. We have seen every situation, there is no need to feel shame, we are here to help.

We have Offices in Cobb, Cherokee and Fulton Counties and we offer 100% free consultations. Let us help you relieve the stress that your debt is causing you. Wage garnishment, repossession, foreclosure, credit card debt and judgments are our areas of specialty. We accept payment plans.

 

Is Debt Consolidation Right for You?

There are many reasons why people are struggling with debt and seek options that will help them get out of it. Your Marietta Debt Consolidation attorney Matthew Cherney can help lower and pay off any current unsecured debts that you have. If you are looking for a way to get out of debt, debt consolidation may be the best option.

Reasons Behind Debt

You will need to figure out when you started accumulating debts so that a solution can be found. There are several reasons why people experience debt such as:

  • Unemployment
  • Emergencies
  • Medical bills
  • Student loans
  • Auto loans/Repossession
  • Overdue mortgages/Foreclosure
  •  Bankruptcy
  • Among many other reasons

The best thing to do while going through the process of debt consolidation loan is to make a budget plan so that your bills and creditors will be paid on time. It is also important to remember that you should not spend more than what is within your means.

What is Debt Consolidation?

One of the first things to understand is knowing what debt consolidation is and learning how it will help to clear your debts. Debt consolidation is a legal opportunity that allows debts to be lowered, grouped together, and paid with a consolidation loan. You will be able to pay off debts by paying a fixed amount every month until your credit is cleared. Debt consolidation is an option that is open to everyone, and this even includes those with secured debt with collateral or unsecured debt.

Applying for Debt Consolidation

Having the option to pay off accumulated debt by applying for a loan can seem easy at first, but not everyone is eligible. Lenders require a certain credit score before they will approve an application. A low credit score is considered a risk to lenders, so there is a chance you may not be approved. The higher your credit score is, the more likely a consolidation lender will approve your application.

Another factor that is considered by lenders is the total amount of debt you have. If your debt is too low and does not reach the minimum threshold for a consolidation loan, a lender is less likely to approve the loan. A debt consolidation lender will also consider the amount of the loan to be paid back, monthly fees, and how long it will take for you to pay back the loan.

How does Debt Consolidation work? 

It is important to keep in mind that a debt consolidation loan can help relieve debt, but it is not an overall solution. You will still have to pay back the loan through a debt consolidation lender in addition to paying any recurring monthly bills such as a mortgage, rent, electricity, water, or cable bills. It is necessary to know if you can afford to pay off the loan and still live fairly comfortably; you should not have to struggle unbearably while paying off your debts.

Debt consolidation can be a perfect option if you are well organized and can follow a budget plan that will help avoid overspending. This alternative solution to clear your debt should be considered as a temporary aid. It is designed to provide a better start for managing your financial difficulties.

Making A Budget Plan

Having a budget plan will help keep financial transactions well organized so that creditors will be paid on time. It is also a good idea to consult a professional financial lawyer or advisor for help. An attorney can help you devise an effective plan to remove debts as quickly as possible.

By assessing all of your spending habits, it will be much easier to determine the crucial spending necessities. Once a spending pattern has been observed, a financial plan can be made so that you can pay off the consolidation loan as soon as possible.

Learn More About Debt Consolidation

By understanding what debt consolidation is and how it works, the better the chances to get out of debt. It is not a good idea to wait until you are almost bankrupt to apply for a consolidation loan, but instead, identify the problem at an earlier stage where debts are more manageable. Take the time to decide if this type of loan is right for you and consult a professional Marietta debt consolidation attorney to find out what steps you need to take to start your path towards financial recovery.

Top Reasons Why You Should Consider Bankruptcy

Whether you’re upside down in debt because of being unemployed, too much spending, medical bills, college tuition or anything else, you should know that you’re not alone!

Last year, almost 773,000 individuals found themselves in the same situation.

You at one point or another might have considered filing for bankruptcy.  Bankruptcy can help those in financial distress get a fresh start and start over again.

Does Bankruptcy Really Work and is it the Right Fit for You?  Here is what you need to know

When is a Good Time to Consider Bankruptcy?

Anytime your income is insufficient to pay your debt while also maintaining your household expenses, bankruptcy is an option worth looking into. Matthew C. Cherney, a bankruptcy attorney, says that a good rule of thumb is to take a good look at the total amount of debt that you owe.  If the monthly expenses associated with servicing the debt comes close to, or exceeds your monthly income, then you may be an ideal candidate for filing for bankruptcy.

Some debts such as child support, income taxes and student loans cannot be discharged in bankruptcy, so one should really consider monthly figure as an expense, rather than a debt.

In Georgia and other states, the bankruptcy laws require many different forms and schedules to be filed with a bankruptcy .  These forms also depend on the chapter of bankruptcy.  Some of these forms are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13.  Let’s explore these in detail.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Chapter 7 is commonly referred to as a “liquidation” bankruptcy.  Chapter 7 is oftentimes associated with what people think of when they think of bankruptcy.  A business bankruptcy would be a Chapter 11.

After your bankruptcy attorney files your paperwork, the judge will appoint a “trustee.”  The trustee’s job  is to investigate your financial affairs search for any assets, and, if appropriate, sell, or liquidate these assets, and pay any monies to your creditors.

You are allowed certain exemptions to protect your property, and this situation only becomes relevant when the value of your assets exceed your exemptions.  If that is the case, you may want to consider a chapter 13 bankruptcy in order to protect your assets.

Did you know?

Abraham Lincoln filed for bankruptcy in 1838.  Prior to the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln had considerable debt associated with the purchase of several general stores.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

If you do not qualify for chapter 7, or are attempting to protect your assets and have regular income, chapter 13 may be a better solution for you.  In chapter 13 one can propose a plan to pay back their debt (or a portion thereof) over three to five years.

Another benefit is that Chapter 13 can treat certain debts that are not dischargeable in chapter 7.

What is the Immediate Benefit of Bankruptcy?

The one thing that ALL forms of bankruptcy have in common is the wonderful feature known as the “Automatic Stay.”

Immediately upon filing bankruptcy,  the automatic stay prevents most creditors from collecting any outstanding debts.

This means:

  • No more lawsuits;
  • No more harassing phone calls;
  • No more “Final Demand” letters sent to your home;

Instantly all of these things that keep you up at night, as well as any outstanding debt- are all washed away, or “discharged,” in legal terms.

Read more about Automatic Stay

What is the Negative Impact of Filing for Bankruptcy?

After filing, your credit score will be impacted.  However, if your credit score is already rather low, the impact will be nominal.  Bankruptcy will remain on your credit report for a period of years (depending on the chapter); however, this time frame may pale in comparison to the length of time necessary to pay back your debt.  You will also be surprised at the amount of credit card offers you’ll receive after your bankruptcy is discharged.  When used responsibly, a credit card is an excellent way of building your credit back up.

So is Filing For Bankruptcy a Good Thing?

The thought of bankruptcy may be unpleasant, but you will not believe the relief you feel after filing.  Filing with a trusting attorney should make it a pleasant experience.  Nobody ever wants to end up filing bankruptcy, but it can be a better alternative to harassing phone calls, intrusive letters, lawsuits and garnishments.

If you or someone you know is going through hardships due to outstanding debt, give our office a call today and speak with attorney Matthew Cherney of Cherney Law Firm, LLC.

Roswell Bankruptcy: Discharging Debt in Chapter 7

The federal bankruptcy laws allow certain debts to be discharged. If you receive a discharge, you will no longer be legally obligated to pay back that debt. Certain debts cannot be discharged. These include child support, spousal support and most income taxes. Generally speaking, debts that can be discharged are unsecured debts, such as medical bills, credit card bills and personal loans. Continue Reading

Reaffirmation Agreements Explained

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Bankruptcy Discharge: What You Should Know

What is a bankruptcy discharge? A bankruptcy discharge is a court order that legally extinguishes your responsibility to pay back your debt. While the discharge may eliminate your responsibility to pay back most debts, not all debts can be discharged in a bankruptcy proceeding. Continue Reading

Discharging Debt Through Bankruptcy

Filing bankruptcy has specific advantages. Discharging debt is one of the main benefits. In simple terms, a discharge eliminates a person’s responsibility to pay back their debt. A person can receive a discharge in both a Chapter 13 and Chapter 7 bankruptcy. It is important to know that not all debts can be discharged in bankruptcy. Continue Reading

Predatory Lending: Your Rights

Federal law protects consumers from illegal mortgage lending practices. In 2010, as part of the Dodd-Frank Act, the federal government created The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was given the task of protecting consumers from predatory lending, and other potentially misleading practices engaged in by banks and other lenders. If you believe that you have been a victim of predatory lending, you can report your concerns to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Continue Reading

Determining Whether Bankruptcy is Right for You

One of the most common questions potential clients ask me is whether they should file bankruptcy. In all honesty, there is no set answer to this question. Determining whether bankruptcy is right for any household is both a serious and difficult division. It is essential that you are properly informed about bankruptcy. When considering bankruptcy, one must know the answers to these three questions: first: am I eligible to file bankruptcy; second: what are the different types of bankruptcy; and third: are there any alternatives to bankruptcy? Continue Reading

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Georgia

Since I am licensed to practice bankruptcy in Georgia and Illinois, I have had the unique opportunity of examining consumer bankruptcy law in both jurisdictions. While each jurisdiction differs greatly in many respects, one constant remains: bankruptcy provides people a financial fresh start. A fundamental goal of the federal bankruptcy laws is to provide everyone a financial fresh start. This goal is accomplished through a bankruptcy discharge. A debtor that files for bankruptcy can obtain a discharge in either a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 case. Continue Reading