Will I Lose Everything I Own if I Declare Bankruptcy?
Many people fear going into bankruptcy because they believe that they will lose everything they own and be out on the street relying on the charity of strangers. It isn’t that bad. It is important to remember that the purpose of a bankruptcy proceeding is to help you wipe the slate clean and move forward with your life. To that end, Georgia bankruptcy laws allow for certain exemptions.
Before describing those exemptions, it is important to note that bankruptcy law is the exclusive domain of the federal courts. The government, however, has allowed states to make the decision to “opt-out” of federal exemptions to the bankruptcy code. Georgia is an “opt-out” state that has identified its own exemptions. The list of exemptions can be found in Georgia Code §44-13-100. Examples of the exemptions available to Georgia residents include:
- Homestead exemption. Last year, the state legislature increased the amount of this exemption from $10,000 to $21,500 (or $43,000 for couples).
- Motor vehicle ($3,500 in equity).
- IRAs and other ERISA retirement accounts.
- Household goods (up to $5,000 per person with no one item being valued at more than $300).
- Jewelry (up to $500 per person).
- Wildcard (up to $600 for any property plus up to $5,000 in unused real estate exemption).
These are just a few of the exemptions that are available. Georgia bankruptcy laws contain a large number of other exemptions. An experienced and caring Athens bankruptcy lawyer can help you identify all of the exemptions for which you qualify.