If you are contemplating filing for bankruptcy in Georgia, you may think that you will lose all of your property. This is not the case. You may have federal and state property exemptions that are available to you. This is the property that you can keep without the worry of it being taken and sold as part of your Georgia bankruptcy proceedings.
Like most other states, Georgia has a specific set of exemption laws that may be available to you in order to protect the value of some of your possessions from creditors if you file for a Georgia Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Are Federal Bankruptcy Exemptions Available to Me in Georgia?
In some states, if you are filing bankruptcy you can choose between state and federal bankruptcy exemptions. However, Georgia is not one of those states.
If you file bankruptcy in the state of Georgia, you must use Georgia’s state exemptions. However, it may be possible for you to supplement Georgia’s state exemptions with federal non-bankruptcy exemptions such as federal and military retirement accounts and disability payments.
How Long Do I Have To Be A Georgia Resident Before I Can File Bankruptcy?
Before filing for bankruptcy in Georgia, you must have been a resident of the state for at least 730 days. If you were not living in Georgia or anyone state during the two years before you file for bankruptcy, you would use the exemptions for the state you resided in for most of the 180 days before the two-year period immediately before filing for bankruptcy.
I’m Married, Can I Double My Georgia Bankruptcy Exemptions?
If you and your spouse file for bankruptcy in Georgia, you and your spouse can double the exemption amounts for any property that belongs to you both. For example, you can’t use the vehicle exemption to protect your spouse’s vehicle unless you are the joint owner.
What Are The Most Common Georgia Bankruptcy Exemptions?
Below is a list of the most common exemptions Georgia residents use when filing for bankruptcy. They include:
Georgia Homestead Exemption
Up to $21,500 of the value of any real estate or personal property, you and/or your dependents use as a residence. This increased to $43,000 of the value if married and the property is owned by only your or your spouse. Up to $10,000 of unused homestead exemption can be used to protect other property.
Georgia Motor Vehicle Exemption
$5,000 of the value of a motor vehicle
Other Personal Property
$5,000 of the value of any animals, crops, clothing, appliances, books, furnishings, household goods, and musical instruments (up to $300 per individual personal item).
$500 of the value of any jewelry
Your burial plot if you don’t use the homestead exemption for this purpose
$7,500 of any compensation for future earnings needed for support
$10,000 of any personal injury lawsuit settlements or verdicts
Wrongful death recovery needed for support
Alimony and child support that is necessary for the support
- Any Social Security benefits, unemployment compensation, public assistance.
- Workers compensation
- Veteran’s benefits
- Old Age Assistance
- Aid to a blind person
- Aid to disabled persons
- Crime victim compensation
You may exempt 75% of earned by unpaid weekly disposable earnings, or 40 times the state or federal hourly wage, whichever is greater, for private and federal workers.
Tools of the Trade
You may exempt $1,500 of books, implements and other tools of the trade
$1,200 of any property up to $10,000 of an unused portion of your homestead exemption
Retirement Accounts and Pensions
- Employees of non-profit corporations
- IRA’s and ERISA-qualified benefits
- Other pensions that may be necessary for support
- IRA Payments that are necessary for support
- Public employees’ retirement benefits
Proceeds from Insurance
- Group life insurance
- Life insurance proceeds
- Proceeds from a life insurance policy when the beneficiary is a dependent of the policy owner, if necessary for the support
- Annuity and endowment contract benefits
- Fraternal benefit society benefits
- Disability and/or health benefits
- Proceeds of industrial life insurance
- Unmatured life insurance contracts
- Unmatured life insurance dividends, loan value, interest, or cash value to $2,000 if the beneficiary is you or someone who you depend on
Bankruptcy-Only Exemption System in Georgia
Georgia, like a few other states, has an exemption scheme that applies only to Georgia bankruptcy and intestate estates. This means that you cannot use them against any creditors that try to take your property outside of bankruptcy or intestacy.
While some courts have found that this law isn’t constitutional, although many bankruptcy courts allow you to use bankruptcy-only schemes, it’s always best to consult with a Georgia bankruptcy attorney to determine what exemptions are available to you.
Do I Need a Georgia Bankruptcy Lawyer?
Bankruptcy law in Georgia is extremely complex and it is recommended that you retain the services of a skilled and experienced Georgia bankruptcy attorney. Georgia bankruptcy attorney Tyler Moffitt has assisted his clients in bankruptcies across Georgia and he can help you too. Call his office today!