Once you decide to file for bankruptcy in Georgia, your next step is to find a qualified attorney to represent you. Although the law does allow bankruptcy petitioners to represent themselves in a process called pro se, most choose not to do so. Bankruptcy has long-term legal and financial consequences that can be challenging to understand when you do not have a legal background. You also need to consider that federal law prohibits bankruptcy judges and court employees from offering any advice about your case.

Services Provided by Our Atlanta Bankruptcy Attorneys

Each of the bankruptcy attorneys at Clark & Washington has decades of experience helping people through the process. When you meet with us for an initial consultation, the first thing we do is determine if you meet the Georgia means test to file for bankruptcy. The test relies primarily on household income and size. The maximum income you can earn from all sources for a household of one person is $40,631. For a family of four, the household income limit increases to $68,085.

You must complete a means test to determine if you qualify to file for bankruptcy if your household income falls above current state guidelines. Your bankruptcy attorney will walk you through adding up your income and expenses to determine if you meet the criteria to move forward with your petition. You could be a better candidate for Chapter 13 bankruptcy that establishes a repayment plan rather than eliminating most debts.bankruptcy georgia

Receive Advice Regarding Which Debts You Can Discharge in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

You can discharge most debts in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition. Typical examples include:

  • Attorney fees, except for alimony and child support cases
  • Business debts
  • Bad checks, unless you wrote them to commit fraud
  • Civil court judgments, unless based on fraud
  • Collection agency accounts
  • Credit card accounts
  • Money you owe under lease agreements, such as past-due rent
  • Medical bills
  • Personal loans
  • Social security overpayments
  • Unpaid utility bills
  • Veterans assistance loans and overpayments

You can only discharge past-due taxes and student loan debt in certain situations, which your bankruptcy attorney will explain further during your consultation. You should also understand that your bankruptcy petition only covers the debt you incurred before you filed. Any debt that you accumulate after filing for bankruptcy is your responsibility to pay.

Child support and alimony payments are not dischargeable in bankruptcy and take priority over other debts. If you have money available to pay creditors at the time of your bankruptcy, priority debts come first. Your attorney will assist you with organizing your debts to determine which ones receive priority for payment. You will also receive legal input on whether you can keep your car, home, and other valuable property after filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Learn the Rules About Discharging Tax Debt with Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy law allows Chapter 7 petitioners to discharge some tax debt, but they must liquidate some of their non-exempt assets first. Typically, non-exempt assets refer to your home, vehicle, and certain personal belongings. You can only discharge income tax through a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, not business sales tax, payroll tax, excise tax, or other types of taxes. Here are some other rules that apply to discharging income tax debt:

  • The tax debt must be at least three years old, and you must have filed a return on it at least two years ago.
  • The tax debt cannot be from a substitute return that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) made on your behalf.
  • The IRS must have determined that you owed income tax at least 240 days ago.
  • You cannot have had a previous conviction for tax fraud or tax evasion.
  • You must submit proof that you have filed tax returns for at least four consecutive years.

Keep in mind that tax liens are not dischargeable in Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Receive Help from Your Bankruptcy Attorney with Gathering and Filing Documentation

Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy requires you to submit a significant amount of paperwork to prove that you are eligible. You also need to complete several legal forms that your attorney will provide you with. Here are some examples of documents you will need to submit:

  • Paystubs
  • Bank statements
  • Credit card bills
  • Medical bills
  • Mortgage paperwork and statements
  • Car loan statements
  • List of personal property
  • Credit report
  • Copy of your driver’s license and social security card

Part of the requirement of filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Georgia is completing a pre-petition credit counseling session. You will need to include proof of course completion with your initial paperwork as well.

The above represents just some of the help you will receive from your Clark & Washington bankruptcy attorney. As you can see, choosing to file for bankruptcy pro se would be nearly impossible. Please contact us to schedule your initial consultation today.