Yes, some of your property is exempt from bankruptcy in Georgia. Exemptions are laws that protect your assets from creditors and the bankruptcy trustee. In addition to Georgia’s bankruptcy exemptions, there are federal exemptions that are established under federal law. However, in Georgia, if you file bankruptcy, you must use the Georgia state exemptions. In addition, if you and your spouse file joint bankruptcy, you can double your exemption amounts, but you can only claim an exemption for property that belongs to you.
Some of the most commonly used Georgia bankruptcy exemptions include:
- Up to $21,500 of value in real or personal property that is used as a residence, and up to $43,000 are married;
- $5,000 of value in automobiles;
- $5,000 of value in animals, clothes, crops, appliances, household goods, books, and furnishings;
- $10,000 in an award from a personal injury case;
- Any value of any health devices;
- Worker’s compensation benefits;
- Social Security benefits;
- Unemployment compensation;
- Welfare benefits;
- Veteran’s benefits;
- $1,500 for tools used in business;
- $1,200 of any property (sometimes called the “wildcard”);
- 75 percent of earned but unpaid weekly disposable earnings;
- Individual retirement accounts and other ERISA retirement accounts (such as 401ks);
- Pensions necessary for support;
- Life insurance proceeds;
- Disability benefits (up to $250/month); and
- Unmatured life insurance benefits of up to $2,000.
You may be uncertain of which state’s exemptions you can use. By law, you will use the laws of the state where you make your permanent home. Some states allow you to choose between the state exemptions and the federal exemptions. However, Georgia is not one of those states. If you are domiciled in Georgia and file for bankruptcy, you must use the federal exemptions. If you have recently moved to Georgia, you will use the 730-day rule – if you have been continuously domiciled in a state for 730 days before filing bankruptcy, you can use that state’s exemptions (or the federal exemptions if allowed by that state).
If you were not domiciled in the same state for two years, you must use the exemptions of the state where you were domiciled for the longer portion of the six month (180 day) period prior to the two years preceding your bankruptcy. For example, if you were a resident of Alabama for two years and then you moved to Georgia for a year before filing for bankruptcy, you will use the exemption laws of Alabama. In some cases, you may not be eligible to use the exemptions of any state under the bankruptcy rules. In that case, you must use the federal exemption.
As you can see, bankruptcy can be a technical area of the law, and if it’s not done correctly it could end up costing a great deal. If you are considering filing for bankruptcy in Georgia, if you are in the Atlanta area, call the Atlanta bankruptcy attorneys at Holston & Huntley. Call us today- consultations are free and you are under no obligation to use our services. We serve Metro Atlanta Georgia as well as Birmingham Alabama including surrounding areas.