Before filing for bankruptcy, you want to know whether you can keep valuable property—especially your home. If you qualify to use Georgia's homestead exemption, you'll be able to protect some equity in your house. In this article, we'll explain:
For more information, read Filing for Bankruptcy in Georgia. Not only does it explain the process, but you'll find helpful checklists and a link to an interactive bankruptcy quiz. Or, for a comprehensive bankruptcy guide, try What You Need to Know to File for Bankruptcy.
Under the Georgia exemption system, homeowners can exempt up to $21,500 of their home or other property covered by the homestead exemption. You can also apply $10,000 of any unused portion of the homestead exemption towards any property you own. This is commonly referred to as a wildcard exemption.
For example, let's say your house is worth $100,000. You have a $90,000 mortgage on the property, leaving $10,000 of home equity. If you file bankruptcy, your equity will be fully exempt under the Georgia homestead exemption. Your creditors won't be able to touch your equity, and you can keep your home.
In Georgia, the homestead exemption is automatic. You don't have to file a homestead declaration to claim the homestead exemption in bankruptcy. You can use the homestead exemption toward real or personal property used as your residence, including your home, condominium, or co-op. You are also allowed to exempt burial plots with the Georgia homestead exemption.
You can double the Georgia homestead exemption if you are married, filing a joint bankruptcy, and own the property together. So as a married couple, you can exempt up to $43,000 of home equity under the Georgia homestead exemption. Learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of filing joint bankruptcy by reading Bankruptcy Options for Married Couples.
Some states allow bankruptcy filers to use federal bankruptcy exemptions instead of state exemptions. Georgia is not one of those states. If you reside in Georgia, you must use the state exemptions. Find out more about which state exemptions apply to you in Which Exemptions Can You Use in Bankruptcy?
Georgia's homestead exemption is found in the Georgia state statutes at Georgia Code Annotated § 44-13-100(a)(1) and § 44-13-100(a)(6). To learn how to find state statutes, check out Laws and Legal Research.
Georgia bankruptcy exemption amounts are adjusted periodically to account for inflation. This includes the homestead exemption. Before filing bankruptcy, check the latest exemption amounts to determine if the equity in the property that is important to you is exempt.