Living in one of the largest and most vibrant cities in Georgia is expensive. It’s surprisingly easy for even the most fiscally responsible adults to fall on hard times while living in a place like Augusta. If you’ve stopped answering the phone because creditors are your most frequent callers, know that a relatively straightforward solution to your challenging financial situation may be available to you and your family. Not so long ago, many individuals shied away from considering bankruptcy as an option because the process of bankruptcy was widely stigmatized. It was considered unacceptable not to pay one’s debts, even if those debts were impossible to pay off and causing a family to sink deeper into financial trouble with every passing month. The Great Recession served as a powerful wake-up call for many Americans. It taught the public that even the most hardworking and responsible people can fall on hard times through no fault of their own. If you are having a particularly rough time financially, know that filing bankruptcy in Augusta can help to erase many kinds of debt so that your family can benefit from a more optimistic financial future.
Many residents of The Garden City have thought about filing bankruptcy but have hesitated because they don’t know much about how the process works. Filing bankruptcy begins with choosing which type of bankruptcy to file. Individuals and families usually file Augusta bankruptcy either under Chapter 13 or Chapter 7. To determine which kind of bankruptcy process may work best in your situation, consider your income, expenses, debts, and assets carefully. Do you simply need a lower monthly debt payment? If so, Chapter 13 may be a good fit for you. Is your monthly income simply not enough to pay any portion of your debts? Chapter 7 may be the best choice for you.
Augusta Bankruptcy Lawyers – Estimated Cost
One of the most urgent questions that individuals thinking about filing bankruptcy in Augusta worry about is “How much does an Augusta bankruptcy lawyer cost?” Hiring bankruptcy assistance in Augusta for help with your Chapter 7 bankruptcy case could cost you anywhere from $649 - $1,500. However, the cost of a bankruptcy lawyer is only an expense you have to consider if you want help preparing your case. If you don’t make much money and don’t own much expensive property, you should know that the Chapter 7 process is usually so straightforward that you can file confidently on your own. If you’re unsure of whether you’d like to hire a lawyer, schedule a consultation with an attorney who seems like a good fit for your case. If you decide to hire that attorney, great. If you decide to file on your own after your risk-free consultation, that is also great.
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How to File Bankruptcy in Augusta, Georgia for Free
Consider the following information about Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Augusta before you commit to filing or seeking alternative debt-relief solutions. Once you know more about the Georgia bankruptcy process, you’ll be able to make an informed decision about whether this is the best path forward for you and your family.
Collect Your Augusta Bankruptcy Documents
One of the only practical challenges associated with filing bankruptcy in Augusta involves completing paperwork. You’ll need to fill out many documents before you can file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Augusta. The Court needs to understand your financial situation, so in your bankruptcy forms you’ll be asked about your income, expenses, assets and debts. To answer the Court’s questions, you’ll need to reference accurate information about your finances. For example, you’ll want to refer to recent pay stubs when calculating your income for the past few months. You may want to request a free copy of your credit report from any of the three major credit reporting agencies so that you have a complete list of your creditors and debts on hand. You’ll also need to submit copies of any official documents required by the Bankruptcy Code, like pay stubs and tax returns.
Take Credit Counseling
Fans of the Braves, Falcons or Hawks understand that good coaching is key to ensuring that a team reaches its potential. Similarly, solid credit counseling helps to ensure that the opportunities provided by Augusta bankruptcy laws reach their full potential as well. Before the Court will evaluate your case, you’ll need to participate in pre-filing credit counseling. You can do this any time in the 6 months before filing bankruptcy. This educational resource will help ensure you understand your options before you formally ask the Court for debt-relief by filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Augusta. When choosing a credit counseling course, make sure that it has been approved by the Department of Justice for the Southern District of Georgia, as Georgia has 3 different districts with different requirements.
Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
When thinking about how to file bankruptcy in Augusta, you may wonder if you’re “up for” filling out so much paperwork without the help of a lawyer. If you hope to save money by filing bankruptcy yourself, you should know that the paperwork that the Court requires is designed to be as straightforward and user-friendly as possible. As long as you closely follow all the directions provided, filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Augusta on your own is a relatively straightforward process as long as your finances aren’t unusually complex. While you can always ask a lawyer for help later, you may want to try working through your forms first, or check if you’re eligible to use Upsolve. Either way, you may be surprised at how easy it is to fill them out.
Get Your Filing Fee
Filing bankruptcy in Augusta under Chapter 7 costs $335. However, certain low-income filers may qualify for a fee waiver. If you aren’t eligible for a fee waiver but have to file before you can save up the full fee, you can request to pay the fee in installments so that it becomes much more manageable. Either way, don’t let the filing fee requirement keep you from exploring your options for debt-relief through Augusta bankruptcy. Whether you pay the fee over time or the Court evaluates your case for free, the benefits of bankruptcy are so far-reaching that the filing fee shouldn’t be what stands in your way if you’re in need of bankruptcy relief.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
When filing for Augusta bankruptcy, you’re required to submit physical forms to the Court; you can’t file online. If you don’t have easy access to a printer to print your forms, know that there are many locations around Augusta where you can solve this logistical challenge. Some local businesses and national chain stores can print them for a fee. You can also visit a local branch of the Augusta-Richmond County Public Library System. The library has 6 neighborhood branches, so this may be the most convenient and cheapest option available for printing all the bankruptcy forms you need. Make sure that you print out all the forms the Court requires at once, then make three copies after signing all the different forms where required. That way, you don’t have to make multiple trips.
Go to Court to File Your Forms
From the Augusta Museum of History to the Riverwalk and the National Golf Club, chances are that you enjoy exploring all that Augusta has to offer. One of the benefits of living in or near Augusta is that you won’t have to travel far to file your Georgia bankruptcy paperwork. Augusta is part of the Southern District of Georgia and the courthouse where you’ll need to file is located at 600 James Brown Boulevard. This is just one more example of why filing bankruptcy in Augusta is generally a straightforward process. Simply take a photo ID, an original set of forms and three additional copies of your forms to the courthouse. The Southern District of Georgia requires that an original and two copies be filed with the Court. The third copy is for you to keep after the Court stamps it. Directions to the courthouse can be found online. The clerk can answer any questions that may arise as you file your physical paperwork.
Mail Documents to Your Trustee
A Trustee will be appointed by the Court when your request for bankruptcy relief is first filed. This individual will oversee some of the steps in your bankruptcy process, including a meeting between you and your creditors. Trustees can be intimidating, as they act in an official capacity and are charged with asking you questions about your finances while you are under oath. But, working with a Trustee is one of those realities of filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Augusta that is generally scarier in theory than it is in practice. The first thing you’ll need to do regarding your relationship with your Trustee is mail them certain documents. You should get directions from your Trustee in the weeks after your Georgia bankruptcy case has been filed on what’s needed.
Take Bankruptcy Course 2
In addition to participating in pre-filing credit counseling course, you’re required to participate in a debtor education course before your Augusta bankruptcy case can be finalized and your discharge entered. The debtor education course teaches you about matters of personal financial management. Just like your pre-filing credit counseling course, this educational tool can help you ensure that the benefits of bankruptcy extend beyond immediate debt-relief obtained by filing bankruptcy in Augusta. Learning from this course can help you to build a stronger, more stable financial future. Again, only choose a course that has been approved by the Department of Justice for your district to ensure your participation “counts,” and remember to submit your certificate of completion to the Court when done.
Attend Your 341 Meeting
One of the primary duties of the Trustee appointed to oversee parts of your case involves conducting a meeting between you and your creditors. Interestingly, creditors don’t often attend these meetings when the person filing bankruptcy in Augusta doesn’t owe outrageous or complex debts. As a result, your 341 meeting will likely just involve you and your Trustee. During the meeting, you’ll be placed under oath so that the Trustee can ask you questions about your finances. Your answers will be a part of your case’s official records, so be honest and forthcoming when you respond to questions. Dishonesty or intentionally omitting information from your answers can lead to serious legal consequences, including the loss of your discharge.
Dealing with Your Car
If you own a car or truck outright or are almost done paying it off and an available exemption safeguards your equity, the Court will allow you to keep that car or truck. If you’re still paying off the purchase of your car, you’ll have to choose one of three options available to individuals filing bankruptcy in Augusta. The Court will allow you to reaffirm your debt, which means that you’ll keep paying off the car on-time and per the terms of your loan. If you choose this option, the Court will need to know how you plan to keep your payments current. Alternatively, you can redeem the car by giving your creditor the market value of the car in a single payment. This is a good option if your loan balance is much higher than the value of your vehicle. Whatever is left owing on the loan is discharged as part of your Georgia bankruptcy case. Finally, you can surrender your car by returning it to your creditor. If you choose this option, you’ll also no longer owe your creditor any payments on your outstanding debt.
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Georgia Bankruptcy Means Test, Bankruptcy Forms, and Exemptions for Augusta
Georgia Means Test
The Georgia bankruptcy Means Test imposes strict income limits on debtors seeking Chapter 7 relief. Only those bankruptcy filers who can show that they can’t pay back their creditors under a Chapter 13 repayment plan can file for Chapter 7 relief. To obtain bankruptcy relief under Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Augusta, you’ll need to pass the Georgia bankruptcy Means Test. If you don’t pass, you should consider speaking to an attorney about your situation to see if you missed anything and discuss possibly filing Chapter 13 instead.
Median Income Levels for Georgia
Georgia Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2020
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Poverty Levels for Georgia
Georgia Fee Waiver Eligibility for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2020
Eligible for fee waiver when under 150% the poverty level.
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Georgia Bankruptcy Forms
Take a deep breath before you begin printing off your Georgia bankruptcy forms. At first glance, the forms you need to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Augusta are going to seem both countless and overly complex. However, as long as you follow the directions carefully, filling out these forms isn’t much of a challenge. Just make sure that in addition to the standard forms, you file the required local form related to your paycheck stubs received in the 60 days before you filed bankruptcy in Augusta.
Everyone who files for Augusta bankruptcy relief can keep eligible property safe from creditors based on the exemptions available to them. When Georgia bankruptcy exemptions are applied to your property, your Trustee won’t be allowed to sell it and give the proceeds to your creditors, no matter how much you owe them. If you don’t have any extravagant or luxury items, you should be able to keep most or all of your property safe. You have to use a specific bankruptcy form (Schedule C) to specify which Georgia bankruptcy exemptions you claim for each category of your property. Georgia doesn’t honor federal bankruptcy exemptions, so you’ll only need to worry about applying state-specific exemptions to your property.