Filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Georgia is a process governed by federal law, not state law. This is not to say, however, that Georgia law isn’t part of Chapter 13 bankruptcies filed in the state. In fact, it is these laws that outline the property that can be protected from liquidation. 

Steps to Follow When Filing Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Because it involves dissolving contracts between you and various creditors, the steps you take to do so need to be timely and correct. 

1. Determine if Chapter 13 is right for you

When filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you’ll be able to keep all your property. Additionally, you might also be able to save your vehicles from repossession and your home from being foreclosed on. 

This is because Chapter 13 bankruptcy sets you up with a repayment plan that spans three to five years. You’ll also be able to get the creditor of a debt that you can’t discharge to agree to a payment plan. 

2. Check if you qualify to file

You’ll need to make sure you’ve met the waiting period if you’ve filed for bankruptcy previously. In order to further qualify for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the court will determine which of the following are the largest, and you’ll be ordered to pay it as part of your monthly payment plan:

  • your nonexempt property’s value
  • your disposable income
  • your priority debt that is not dischargeable

3. Should You Hire an Attorney to Help You File Chapter 13 Bankruptcy? red chair

Because filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a lengthy process that is also complex, most people hire an attorney for assistance. Opting to use an attorney to file Chapter 13 bankruptcy provides benefits that you might not be aware of.

In addition to informing you when you should file, your lawyer will also assist you in keeping your property and tell you when you can stop paying specific bills. An attorney is also able to lend their expertise to ensure that you don’t accidentally commit fraud or run into other issues. 

4. Gather the necessary documents

Filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy means gathering a plethora of financial and other documents. This is another area where having another set of eyes — such as your attorney’s experienced ones — can help ensure that you have all the documents in hand when they’re needed. 

You’ll need to present documentation that identifies you and that proves your social security number. Statements from your car loan company and mortgage holder, as well as tax returns for the past four years, are also required. 

Be prepared to gather bank, retirement and investment statements from the past six months. You’ll also need to provide proof of employment income. This includes income from sources such as alimony and unemployment insurance. 

Depending on your assets, the court might want to see documentation related to the value of items such as collectibles, antique and rare items. If your property is damaged, repair estimates and photos might be requested. 

5. Complete credit counseling

When filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, individuals are required to complete credit counseling. You must do so at some point during the 180 days prior to filing. 

You’ll also have to complete a debt management course once you have filed. Make sure to obtain certificates of completion for both as the court will want to see them. 

6. Attend the 341 creditors meeting

The 341 meeting of creditors is mandatory. It must occur before the court will approve your Chapter 13 bankruptcy case. Most creditors won’t attend. However, this meeting is designed, so the court can verify your information with your creditors. 

While it’s true that you can file Chapter 13 bankruptcy without securing legal representation, the vast majority of people chose not to do so. There’s a good reason for this because filing bankruptcy is a process that is typically long and complex.

Clark & Washington is Georgia’s largest bankruptcy filer. Serving throughout the Atlanta area, they’ve been providing their legal expertise to clients since 1983. Learn more about the steps for filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy or for a free no-obligation consultation, contact them today.