Dispelling Georgia bankruptcy myths ? you don’t lose everything

For those in Georgia drowning in overwhelming debt, normal everyday tasks can quickly prove to be seemingly insurmountable obstacles. For instance, what was once the simple act of paying monthly bills can easily become an anxiety-ridden chore when bank accounts run dry.

Unfortunately, these feelings of anxiety can rapidly turn to anger and frustration as debt collectors engage in their daily ritual of harassing phone calls and threatening letters. To make matters worse, many Georgians find themselves in this position due to no fault of their own - for example, because of job loss or unforeseen emergency expenses such as medical bills.

Sadly, despite the fact that bankruptcy can usually provide financial relief for these downtrodden individuals, many avoid this option based on the misguided impression that they will lose everything if they file for bankruptcy in Georgia. This mistaken belief could not be farther from the truth as there are several types of property in Georgia that are "exempt" from the bankruptcy estate - meaning Georgians are able to keep these particular types of property following a bankruptcy.

Georgia bankruptcy exemptions

While bankruptcy proceedings are generally governed by federal law, when it comes to bankruptcy exemptions, the federal bankruptcy code expressly permits each state to "opt-out" of the federal exemptions and create their own, which Georgia has elected to do.

Consequently, Georgia law currently contains several exemptions that can protect a person's property during a bankruptcy. For example, those who file for bankruptcy in Georgia can utilize both the homestead and motor vehicle exemptions.

Specifically, Georgia law permits an individual to exempt a substantial amount of equity in his or her home from the bankruptcy estate - an amount that doubles if the person is married. Thus if an individual files for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Georgia, he or she does not have to jeopardize the equity he or she has accumulated in the home so long as the equity does not exceed the exemption limits.

Another commonly used Georgia bankruptcy exemption is the motor vehicle exemption - which states that a person is able to exempt his or her interest in a motor vehicle up to several thousand dollars. Interestingly, a bill that will increase the motor vehicle exemption - otherwise known as Senate Bill 105 - was recently passed by both chambers of the Georgia General Assembly. Now that it has been signed by the governor, the bill will hopefully be able to provide additional relief for Georgia families currently facing financial struggles.

Seek assistance if contemplating a Georgia bankruptcy

When it comes to both the homestead and motor vehicle exemptions, it can often be difficult to know how a Georgia bankruptcy court will ultimately assess the value of these particular pieces of property - meaning it is always best to speak with an experienced bankruptcy attorney in Georgia who can advise as to what the specific exemption amounts are, and if an individual qualifies.

Accordingly, if you are currently considering bankruptcy as a way to address your own mounting debt, it is advisable to contact a knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney who can help protect your rights and assist in the filing process.