If you are struggling to make ends meet due to mounting debt, Chapter 7 bankruptcy in GA could allow you to erase most of your unsecured debt. Learn more here.
What Is Chapter 7 Bankruptcy 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 this process is completed, the debtor is free of major debt.
There are assets and personal property that you may be able to keep during and after your bankruptcy. However, be careful because how you structure your bankruptcy can have a major impact on the results that you get. If you are not sure what you are supposed to do, hiring an experienced bankruptcy attorney can be helpful.
Attorneys at Cherney Law Firm LLC properly investigate every possible avenue of debt relief before simply stepping into bankruptcy. If that is the right choice for you, have in mind that Cherney Law Firm has helped thousands of clients and businesses across the Metro Atlanta area successfully file for bankruptcy and get a fresh start.
Filing Bankruptcy Chapter 7 In GA
In the State of Georgia there are three bankruptcy districts:
Once you figure out which district you are living in, it is time to file. There are two ways to file bankruptcy in Georgia: you can file by yourself or you can hire an attorney to file bankruptcy Chapter 7 for you.
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. Most notably, you can go to the State of Georgia bankruptcy website to find out what bankruptcy forms you’ll need.
Achieving Debt Relief With Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Atlanta GA
The purpose of filing for bankruptcy is to achieve debt relief in order to rebuild a sense of financial security. 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 Bankruptcy Code (United States Code Title 11), 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.
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 bankruptcy attorneys will give you 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.
It’s not recommended to do this alone. Cherney Law Firm has over 15 years of experience helping consumers file for debt relief, reach their financial goals, and begin moving forward. Reach out to them for legal advice or a free case evaluation.
What Are Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Exemptions?
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 bankruptcy exemptions are very important. It is nearly impossible to rebuild your sense of security if everything you own is taken from you.
It is important to note that some states will allow the person who filed bankruptcy to choose between using federal exemptions or state exemptions. But, the State of Georgia is not among those states and does not allow this. Even though bankruptcy law is a federal law, you must use Georgia state exemptions. There are a few instances that you may be able to use federal non-bankruptcy exemptions.
Chapter 7 allows the debtor to discharge unsecured debt, including medical bills, personal loans, or a credit card account. But, not all unsecured debts can be discharged in your Chapter 7 bankruptcy process.
Some of the most common Georgia bankruptcy exemptions include:
- Homestead exemption
- Personal property
On the other hand, with Chapter 7 you can also relinquish yourself from responsibility to pay some secured debts. Secured debts are those debts with collateral involved, such as a car loan.
However, in case a secured debt is wiped out with Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the debtor can’t keep that property until she or he pays what they owe. For example, you won’t have to pay a car payment, or a house mortgage, but you won’t be able to keep the real estate in question until you pay your debts.
Are Student Loans Dischargeable?
On the other hand, some debts aren’t dischargeable, such as student loans, some court-ordered damage awards, child support, as well as certain taxes. That means these debts will not go away in bankruptcy, so you’ll have to find a way to repay them.
But, in case a debtor can prove that she or he is suffering from an undue hardship that will prevent them from repaying certain debt like a student loan, it may be possible to discharge it.
Bankruptcy lawyer Matthew Cherney, the founder of Cherney Law Firm, is capable of obtaining the best possible results for your situation.
How Much Are Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Fees In GA?
A bankruptcy filing fee is the same in every state because these fees are set by the court system and federal laws. The filing fee for Georgia Chapter 7 bankruptcy is $338, effective December 1, 2020.
You have to pay the filing fee at the same time you file a petition for bankruptcy with the Court. Filing fees are the same, no matter if you are retaining bankruptcy attorneys or not. If you do, you also have to pay attorney’s fees in addition.
The day you have filed bankruptcy forms to the court is in some cases called the filing date. It is important because on that date everything is set in motion. For example, as soon as you file for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Georgia, an automatic stay is imposed.
The state of Georgia has laws that will protect debtors from debt collectors, one of the most important is the automatic stay. It 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.
When you file for bankruptcy, the clerk assigns a case number, a judge, as well as a bankruptcy trustee. After that, the 341 meeting is scheduled.
What Is a 341 Meeting?
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 bankruptcy 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. He or she may also want to take a look at your bank statements, deeds to any real estate, and vehicle titles. 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 or she 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 meetings is to let the trustee go through the paperwork you have filed. He or she will ask you questions about your debt and assets. Your bankruptcy lawyer 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 choose to hire an attorney, they will prepare you with everything that you need to know about what to expect at your 341 creditors’ meeting.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Eligibility and Credit Counseling
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 household 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.
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 local forms and a bankruptcy 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.
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 called a debtor education or financial management course. This is usually done with the same credit counseling agency that you used before you filed for your bankruptcy.
How to Convert from Chapter 13 to Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?
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 Georgia bankruptcy 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.
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 bankruptcy.
There really are no tricks to filing for bankruptcy in the state of Georgia. It 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.
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 email 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.
Georgia Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Explained
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.
If you have already filed bankruptcy, you can’t do it again in a couple of months or a year. The Bankruptcy Code requires that you have to wait a certain period of time to be eligible for another discharge. If you had received Chapter 7 discharge before, you have to wait 8 years between the filing dates.
Cherney Law Firm can help you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection. We have 3 locations in the Atlanta, Georgia area, including Offices in Cobb, Cherokee, and Fulton Counties, and serve all of the cities in the Atlanta Metro area.
We offer a 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.