Georgia Bankruptcy Exemptions

Georgia bankruptcy exemptions help you keep property in bankruptcy. Here are the exemption amounts.

Like all states, Georgia has a set of exemptions you can use to protect property when filing for bankruptcy, such as a home, car, and retirement account. In this article, you'll learn:

  • how long you must live in Georgia before using its exemptions
  • whether Georgia exemptions will protect all of your property, and
  • what will happen to any property you can't exempt.

If you have more questions, read Filing for Bankruptcy in Georgia. Not only will you find answers, but it includes helpful checklists and a link to an interactive bankruptcy quiz. Or, try the start-to-finish bankruptcy guide, What You Need to Know to File for Bankruptcy.

How Georgia's Bankruptcy Exemptions Work

You can protect property covered by an exemption regardless of whether you file for Chapter 7 or 13. But each chapter treats nonexempt property—things not covered by an exemption—differently.

  • In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the bankruptcy trustee sells nonexempt property and distributes the proceeds to creditors.
  • In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you keep everything you own. However, you must pay the value of the nonexempt property equity in your repayment plan, or your disposable income, whichever is more.

The different approaches ensure that creditors receive the same amount regardless of the chapter filed.

When You Can Use Georgia's Bankruptcy Exemptions

You can file for bankruptcy in Georgia after living there for more than 180 days. However, you must live in Georgia much longer before using Georgia's exemptions—at least 730 days before filing, to be exact. Otherwise, you'd use the previous state's exemptions.

But, suppose you weren't living in any particular state during the two years before filing for bankruptcy. In that case, you'd use the exemptions of the state you lived in for most of the 180 days before the two-year period that immediately preceded your filing. (11 U.S.C. § 522(b)(3)(A).) Learn more about filing for bankruptcy after moving to a new state.

Common Georgia Bankruptcy Exemptions

Here are some of the Georgia bankruptcy exemptions that bankruptcy filers often use. Spouses can double the exemption amount if they both own the property and file a joint bankruptcy case. Other exemptions you can use in addition to Georgia's exemptions:

  • the federal nonbankruptcy exemptions, and
  • the federal COVID-19 recovery rebate exemption (protect stimulus payments, tax credits, and child credits in bankruptcy).
  • tax-exempt retirement accounts, including 401(K)s, 403(b)s, profit-sharing and money purchase plans, SEP and SIMPLE IRAs, and defined benefit plans and traditional and Roth IRAs to $1,362,800 per person (as of June 2021). (11 U.S.C. 522(b)(3)(C); (n).)

Georgia Homestead Exemption

$21,500 of value in real estate or personal property, including a co-op, that you or your dependent uses as a residence. Up to $43,000 of value if married and the property is owned by only one spouse. Up to $10,000 of unused homestead exemption can be used to protect any other property. 44-13-100(a)(1) & (a)(6), 44-13-1

Georgia Motor Vehicle Exemption

$5,000 of value in motor vehicles – 44-13-100(a)(3)

Other Personal Property

$500 of value in jewelry – 44-13-100(a)(5)

$5,000 of value in animals, crops, clothing, appliances, books, furnishings, household goods, and musical instruments (up to $300 per individual item) – 44-33-100(a)(4)

Burial plot (if you don't use the homestead exemption) – 44-13-100(a)(1)

$7,500 of compensation for future earnings needed for support – 44-13-100(a)(11)(E)

Health aids – 44-13-100(a)(10)

$10,000 of personal injury recoveries – 44-13-100(a)(11)(D)

Wrongful death recoveries needed for support – 44-13-100(a)(11)(B)

Support

Alimony and child support necessary for support – 44-13-100(a)(2)(D)

Public benefits

Unemployment compensation, Social Security benefits, and public assistance – 44-13-100(a)(2)(A)

Worker's compensation – 34-9-84

Veteran's benefits – 44-13-100(a)(2)(B)

Old age assistance – 49-4-35

Aid to blind persons – 49-4-58

Aid to disabled persons – 49-4-84

Crime victims' compensation – 44-13-100(a)(11)(A)

Wage Exemption

75% of earned but unpaid weekly disposable earnings, or 40 times the state or federal hourly minimum wage, whichever is greater, for private & federal workers; bankruptcy judge may authorize more for low-income debtors – 18-4-20, 18-4-21

Tools of the Trade

$1,500 of implements, books, & tools of the trade – 44-13-100(a)(7)

Wildcard

$1,200 of any property – 44-13-100(a)(6)

Up to $10,000 of unused portion of homestead exemption – 44-13-100(a)(6), 44-13-1

Pensions and Retirement Accounts

IRAs and ERISA-qualified benefits – 18-4-22

Employees of nonprofit corporations – 44-13-100(a)(2.1)(B)

Other pensions necessary for support – 44-13-100(a)(2.1)(C), (a)(2)(E), 18-4-22

IRA Payments necessary for support – 44-13-100(a)(2)(F)

Public employees retirement benefits – 44-13-100(a)(2.1)(A), 47-2-332

(Learn more about retirement plan accounts in bankruptcy.)

Insurance Proceeds

Group life insurance – 33-30-10

Life insurance proceeds – 33-25-11

Proceeds of a life insurance policy when the beneficiary is a dependent of the policy owner, to the extent necessary for support – 44-13-100(a)(11)(C)

Annuity & endowment contract benefits – 33-28-7

Disability or health benefits to $250 per month – 33-29-15

Fraternal benefit society benefits – 33-15-62

Proceeds and avails of industrial life insurance – 33-26-5

Unmatured life insurance contract – 44-13-100(a)(8)

Unmatured life insurance dividends, interest, loan value, or cash value to $2,000 if the beneficiary is you or someone upon whom you depend – 44-13-100(a)(9)

Special Note: Georgia's Bankruptcy-Only Exemption System

Georgia, along with several other states, has an exemption scheme that applies only to bankruptcy and insolvent intestate estates (meaning you can't use them against creditors that try to take your property outside of bankruptcy or intestacy). Some courts have held the law isn't constitutional, although the majority of bankruptcy courts allow debtors to use bankruptcy-only exemption schemes. Consult with an attorney to determine what exemptions are permitted in your local bankruptcy court.

Confirming Exemptions

This list includes many of the commonly-used bankruptcy exemptions available in Georgia, but other exemptions are available to protect your property. Also, Georgia might have changed the amounts since this list was reviewed in 2016.

To find the Georgia Code, go to the Georgia General Assembly website and select "Georgia Code" from the left navbar. You'll be referred to the Georgia Code on LexisNexis. Or you can visit a law library and see the Code there.

Updated April 23, 2021

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