Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Georgia
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
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.
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
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.
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
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)
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.