Frequently Asked Questions about Bankruptcy in Georgia
The bankruptcy attorneys Brian R. Cahn & Associates, LLC provide legal counsel to northwest Georgia consumers and businesses seeking relief from debt and a return to positive financial health. In order to lend some clarity to certain issues, here we provide answers to some commonly asked questions about filing for bankruptcy.
- What is bankruptcy?
- Is bankruptcy good for me?
- Will bankruptcy help me or hurt me?
- Will filing for bankruptcy affect my credit?
- What assets can I keep if I file for bankruptcy?
- Can co-signers be protected in bankruptcy?
- How can I stop creditor harassment?
- How long do bankruptcy cases take?
What is bankruptcy?
Bankruptcy laws were formulated to give the honest debtor a fresh financial start. However, bankruptcy is not intended to give debtors an unfair advantage over their creditors, or to protect the debtor who has acted in bad faith in an attempt to defraud their creditors. This requirement comes from the United States Bankruptcy Code, Title 11 of the U.S. Code. Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases are most frequently filed by individual debtors with consumer debts, while Chapter 11 cases are usually filed by businesses as a means to restructure debt.
Brian R. Cahn & Associates, LLC is among the leading bankruptcy law firms in North Georgia, and with offices in Cartersville, Calhoun, Dalton and Dallas, we are convenient to your home or business.
Is bankruptcy good for me?
Many of us are struggling with debt in this economy. With the high unemployment rate, low credit availability, and the off-the-chart number of foreclosures, more and more people are finding that bankruptcy is the right choice for them and their financial futures. If you are bombarded by bills and need relief, filing for bankruptcy may be a good option for you. Keep in mind, however, that bankruptcy is not right for everyone, and you should carefully weigh your options before making any financial decision.
Will bankruptcy help me or hurt me?
Some people, often those in the credit card industry, do not want debtors to understand the truth about bankruptcy (because if you get your bills discharged, they probably will not get paid). For this reason, there are many misconceptions about bankruptcy, especially when it comes to what happens to credit after bankruptcy. If you are thinking about filing for bankruptcy, make sure you get the facts and make the right decisions for you. Talk to an experienced bankruptcy attorney about your unique circumstances.
Will filing for bankruptcy affect my credit?
Your credit will likely be affected if you file for bankruptcy, but that is not necessarily bad news. If you do not have great credit to begin with, once your debt is relieved, your credit score may start to improve not too long after bankruptcy. You should also know that most types of bankruptcy stay on your credit report for a period of at least ten years. (In some cases, the time period can be reduced.) During that time, the bankruptcy may negatively affect your credit, but you also have the chance to rebuild your credit free from debt. Your credit is also affected by where your credit level is today and which type of bankruptcy you file.
What assets can I keep if I file for bankruptcy?
Exemptions are one of the few aspects of bankruptcy governed by state law rather than federal law. In Georgia, the following property is exempt from liquidation if you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy:
- Real estate up to $21,500
- Household goods, such as televisions, furniture and electronics, up to $300 per item and $5,000 total
- Jewelry up to $500
- Lost future earnings recoveries needed for support up to $7,500
- Personal injury recoveries up to $10,000
- Tools of trade up to $1,500
- Wrongful death recoveries needed for support
- Health aids
- Burial plot
- Pensions, including 401(k)s and IRAs
- Public benefits
- Alimony and child support needed for support
- Insurance policies
In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you get to keep all of your property regardless of its value, so long as you are able to pay your unsecured debtors the value of the property you would lose if you filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
Can co-signers be protected in bankruptcy?
Co-signers can be protected in certain bankruptcies. If you are concerned about protecting your co-signers, a bankruptcy attorney may be able to help you determine which bankruptcy filing is best for you. Generally, if you decide to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy, creditors are still able to proceed with collection efforts against your co-signers, even if you were relieved of the debt. However, if you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, a co-signer is protected if the following provisions are met:
- The debt must be consumer debt.
- The debt cannot be incurred in the ordinary course of business.
- The co-signer cannot benefit from the proceeds of the debt.
- The debtor sticks to the Chapter 13 bankruptcy payment agreement.
You should note that if you fail to complete the requirements of your Chapter 13 repayment plan, the creditors have the legal right to pursue your co-signers.
How can I stop creditor harassment?
We do not have to tell you that creditors can be annoying, but we can tell you that you may have the power to silence them. If you decide to file for bankruptcy, you can stop creditor harassment and reclaim your phone, voicemail and mailbox. This is because a bankruptcy filing results in an automatic stay order, which makes it illegal for creditors to attempt to collect on your debt.
How long do bankruptcy cases take?
The length of a bankruptcy case depends on many circumstances, but mostly on which type of bankruptcy you file. Please see our Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 pages for more information about how long bankruptcy takes.
How can I learn more about bankruptcy in Georgia?
If you would like to learn more about bankruptcy and your options for obtaining debt relief, please contact Brian R. Cahn & Associates, LLC today. We offer a free initial consultation to discuss your concerns and determine how we may help you.