When you’ve fallen behind on debt and don’t see a way out, bankruptcy can be the answer. But deciding to file is just the first step. To prepare your paperwork, you’ll need to know how to find the official bankruptcy forms, means testing amounts (for qualification purposes), mandatory education providers, exemption lists of the assets you’ll be able to keep (exempt), and your local Georgia bankruptcy court.
(To learn about your filing options, start with What Is the Difference Between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?)
Filing for bankruptcy involves disclosing all aspects of your financial situation on the official bankruptcy forms found on the U.S. Bankruptcy Court forms website. Each form includes basic instructions that explain how to fill out the bankruptcy form. The forms don’t tell you what will happen once you file, however. You’ll need to research the law about issues such as procedural requirements (what you’ll need to do) and bankruptcy’s effect on your property.
To start your bankruptcy case, you’ll file the completed paperwork in the local bankruptcy court (more below) along with a filing fee or a fee waiver request and a certificate demonstrating completion of the credit counseling requirement.
Before starting the paperwork, most people gather together financial documents. But you’ll need things that aren’t in your possession, too. Here are some resources that will help you prepare for your Georgia bankruptcy filing.
Georgia has three bankruptcy districts—the Northern, Middle, and Southern district—with multiple locations serving various cities. Each court has a webpage with helpful information, such as:
Clicking on the district name will take you to the court’s homepage.
You’ll want to check the appropriate Georgia bankruptcy court website to find out if you’ll need to use a local form. Contact the court clerk for help.
Some of the figures and information you’ll need will be on the U.S. Trustee website:
Some people worry about giving up everything that they own in bankruptcy. You won’t lose it all, but you might not be able to keep unnecessary luxury items, either. You can find out what you’ll be allowed to protect by reviewing Georgia’s property exemption laws.
Nonexempt property (assets you can’t protect) get sold for the benefit of creditors in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. By contrast, filers can keep all property in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, as long as the filer can afford to pay the value of the nonexempt property in the three- to five-year repayment plan.
(Find more about protecting assets in Georgia Bankruptcy Exemptions.)
This overview doesn’t cover everything you’ll need to know before filing a Georgia bankruptcy case and making a mistake in bankruptcy can be costly. The bankruptcy court will expect you to educate yourself about bankruptcy law or to consult with a knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney.