Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in the State Of Georgia
In Georgia, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a 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 bankruptcy 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
Filing for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Ga.
Once you figure out which district you are living in, it is time to file. There are two ways that you can do this in Georgia, you can file by yourself or you can hire an attorney to file for bankruptcy chapter 7 for you.
How to File for Chapter 7 by Yourself in Georgia
If you are confident in yourself and would like to file for chapter 7 on your own, there are many resources that will help you in the state of Georgia. There are online guides from companies like Upsolve, or you can go to the State of Georgia Bankruptcy website to find out information on the forms that you need.
Hiring an Attorney to File Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Georgia
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 Chapter 7 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 the United States Code §522, a person who files for bankruptcy in Georgia may request certain exemptions, including interest on home loans and vehicles, any life insurance policies that have not 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 :
What happens to your property?
When you file for 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.
Median Income for Chapter 7 in Georgia
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.
Chapter 7 Credit Counseling
If you have taken the means test and it has determined that you are eligible for Chapter 7, the next step before you file is to take a pre-filing credit counseling course. These courses are online and your attorney can usually provide you with the information on where it can be taken. After your Georgia bankruptcy has been discharged, you will also be required to take another credit counseling course. This is usually done with the same credit counseling agency that you used before you filed for your bankruptcy.
Georgia Bankruptcy Laws:
The state of Georgia has laws that will protect debtors from debt collectors, one of the most important is the Automatic stay.
Automatic Stay With Chapter 7
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. Although the automatic stay is considered temporary, it will protect the debtor from creditors the whole time until chapter 7 is discharged. At that point it will be no longer needed because once Chapter 7 is discharged in Georgia, the debt is gone forever, Creditors can no longer attempt to collect the debts that have been discharged.
Chapter 7 Trustee in Georgia
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 of 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.
Georgia Bankruptcy – The 341 Meeting
Once a trustee is assigned to your case, a 341 meeting will be scheduled. The purpose of the 341 meetings 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 your 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 meetings) to file any objections. After that period has elapsed, they will send you a letter stating that your chapter 7 bankruptcy has been discharged.
Convert from chapter 13 to chapter 7 in Georgia
Many times when a person is in a chapter 13 bankruptcy, they will be unable to keep up with their payment plan. When this happens, it is possible to convert from chapter 13 to chapter 7.
Tricks for Filing Chapter 7 in Georgia
There really are no tricks to filing for bankruptcy in the state of Georgia. It really has to do with whether you qualify or not. If you are in a situation that you think you may not qualify for chapter 7, you can always speak to your attorney about chapter 13. By taking the means test, you will be able to see if you qualify for chapter 7 or chapter 13.
We are Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Attorney’s in Georgia
Cherney Law Firm Can help you file for chapter 7 bankruptcy protection. We have 3 locations in the Atlanta, Georgia area and serve all of the cities in the Atlanta Metro area.
If you are considering whether a chapter 7 bankruptcy is right for you and you live in the state of Georgia, feel 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.
How Much will Chapter 7 cost?
We have Offices in Cobb, Cherokee, and Fulton Counties and we offer 100% free consultation. 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.