“There never seems to be enough money.”

The stress of not being able to pay your monthly bills can be overwhelming. Before you are overwhelmed, come discuss your situation with someone experienced in these financially troubling matters.

We always begin with credit counseling in an effort to avoid bankruptcy. This includes a complete review of your debts and budget. However, when conditions are proper or creditors refuse to cooperate, we can file a Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy for you in order to stop garnishments, levies, repossessions and foreclosures.

On October 17, 2005 the rules changed dramatically. Many of the changes will actually help debtors but it will require much more preparation. Please make an appointment to discuss a financial plan before you take out a home equity loan or a 401K loan to pay off credit card debt.

What is Bankruptcy?

Individuals who are having problems paying their bills, or who are threatened by a creditor with a lawsuit, a garnishment or a seizure of property, often consider bankruptcy as a solution to their problems. The bankruptcy law is a federal law, which is available throughout the United States. Bankruptcy Courts are federal courts.

How often can I file a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy case?

A debtor can receive a discharge from his or her debts once every 8 years.

How do I benefit from a Chapter 7 case?

By filing the case, your creditors are prohibited from continuing suits against you or from attempting to collect their claims against you and your property. Rather, creditors must look solely to the Bankruptcy Court and the assets within its control for payment of their claims. By filing the Chapter 7 case and obtaining a discharge, you receive a total forgiveness of the discharged debts and receive a fresh start.

How does Chapter 13 work?

Under Chapter 13, the debtor presents a plan of debt repayment which is reviewed by the Chapter 13 trustee, creditors and the Bankruptcy Court. The plan must be filed in good faith, must provide for payments that are feasible in light of the debtor’s income, and must provide for payments over time that are equal in value to the money the creditors would have received if the debtor had chosen Chapter 7 liquidation instead of Chapter 13. If a proper objection is made to the plan, then the plan must also provide that for a period of three years, all of the debtor’s income, above reasonable expenses, will be used to pay debts.

If the Chapter 13 plan is approved, all payments are made through the Chapter 13 trustee’s office, and the trustee is paid a commission. Most plans run at least three years and cannot exceed five years. Chapter 13 provided that the debtor receives a discharge from most pre-bankruptcy debt upon making the payments called for by the plan.

Will I be able to retain any of my property?

In Georgia each debtor can retain:

1. $22,000 per person in real estate equity of your principal residence (the amount of property value in excess of liens on the property) not to exceed $44,000.

2. Social Security benefits, unemployment compensation, veteran benefits, disability benefits and alimony;

3. $5,000 in equity in vehicles;

4. Various items of household furnishings and wearing apparel, up to $300 each, to a total value of $5,000;

5. $500 in jewelry;

6. $1,500 in professional implements, books and tools of the trade; and

7. $600, plus $5,000 of the unused portion of the principal residence exemption as a wildcard.

There are other less common exemption rights. In addition, if the creditor holding a lien on a particular item of property consents, and the Bankruptcy Court finds that it is in your best interest, you can retain additional property by reaffirming the debt to the creditor and paying the creditors claim pursuant to which you had previously agreed.

Will all my debts be discharged?

A debtor cannot discharge certain debts, including most taxes, student loans, property settlement, alimony and child support, debts incurred through fraud or theft, and certain other types of non-dischargeable debts.

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