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Exemptions

The law allows you to keep certain property that the State thinks you need in order to live. That property is exempt. Georgia has one list of such property, and South Carolina has another. Generally, South Carolina's list is more generous for some reason (probably because Georgia hasn't bothered to amend most of the items on its list in more than 10 years, despite all the inflation we've experienced in the meantime). The exemption laws are too complex to explain in detail. But, in general, bankruptcy attorneys will advise debtors who think they still have whopping equity in their homes, even in this terrible housing market, or their houses are paid for, to stay away from Chapter 7.

Important

In the rare case where a particular piece of property is not exempt under state exemption laws does NOT mean that you'll automatically lose the property, however. Chapter 7 trustees are usually looking for the quick buck, and would rather have cash than property that they have to market and sell. Consequently, you can probably ransom your non-exempt property by making a negotiated cash payment to the trustee. Some trustees will let you pay over a short period of time. You may be able to negotiate a ransom price that's considerably less than the replacement value of the property.
In Chapter 13, property exemptions are used in the best interests of creditors or liquidation test (one of the five tests for confirmation of a plan) to make sure that your unsecured creditors get at least as much money through the plan as they would have gotten in a theoretical Chapter 7 case. Once again, you don't lose the property. Instead, you must pay the value of the non-exempt property into the plan somehow. You can pay out of your earnings, or, in a rare case, you can sell the property and pay the proceeds into the plan.

The Automatic Stay

As soon as you file a bankruptcy petition, a stay goes into effect automatically. The bankruptcy stay prevents everyone from attempting to collect a pre-petition debt. For example:

A foreclosure sale must be put on hold.

A car lender can no longer grab your ride.

Civil lawsuits, such as ones brought by debt collectors or credit card companies, are halted.

The Department of Motor Vehicles must allow you to renew your driver's license even if you owe parking tickets or excise taxes, or have an unpaid judgment from an uninsured motor vehicle accident.

Garnishments or levies on your pay check must stop.

Individual creditors may, however, petition the Bankruptcy Court for relief (or to lift) the stay, if they think they have a good reason (or cause) for doing so. If the Court agrees and the petition is granted, relief allows them to proceed with foreclosure, repossession, eviction, and so on.

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Informational Links:

American Bankruptcy Institute
www.abiworld.org

National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy www.nacba.org

USC Title 11 -Bankruptcy www.doney.net

Personal Bankruptcy Information www.bankruptcyinformation.com

Bankruptcy Law Network www.bankruptcylawnetwork.com

Start Fresh Today, Inc www.startfreshtoday.com

Life After Bankruptcy www.lifeafterbankruptcy.com

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Disclaimer:
Lee Ringler is a debt relief agency proudly designated by the US Congress and the President of the United States. Lee has been helping people find solutions to their debt problems, including, where appropriate, getting out of debt under the federal bankruptcy laws for over 20 years in both Georgia and South Carolina. We work under Title 11 of the United States Code to assist you in dealing with your debt. Our office is located at 808 Greene Street, Suite 200, Augusta, GA 30901. This site is intended for marketing material only and is not a substitute for the advice of competent counsel before undertaking any legal course of action. No attorney-client relationship is formed by the viewing of this site, or the request or receipt of any information by means of it.

Serving Georgia Cities and Counties: Augusta, Martinez, Evans, Thomson, Waynesboro, Louisville, Lincolnton, Washington and Columbia County, Burke County, McDuffie County, Jefferson County, Warren County, Wilkes County, Lincoln County, Glascock County, Richmond County, Taliaferro County, and Fort Gordon Military Reservation. We also service South Carolina Cities and Counties in Bankruptcy cases only: Aiken, Barnwell, Bamberg, Edgefield, North Augusta, Greenwood, Columbia, and Richland County, Aiken County, Edgefield County, Greenwood County, Lexington County, and Saluda County. County.