Written by the Upsolve Team.
Updated September 30, 2020
Living in a city that prides itself on being “The Heart of Georgia” is difficult when you’ve fallen on hard times. It’s not easy to focus on taking care of others when you’re struggling financially. If you’ve ever ridden on a commercial airliner, you have heard the standard safety instruction that in the event of a drop in cabin pressure, it’s important to secure your own oxygen mask before assisting others with theirs. Why is this the case? If you don’t attend to your own basic needs, you won’t be in any position to help anyone else. If you’re struggling to make ends meet and pay your creditors simultaneously, it’s more than okay to seek debt relief assistance. By seeking assistance and getting out from underneath the weight of crushing debt, you’ll place yourself in a much better position to help others and to build a strong financial future for your family. If you opt to file for Georgia bankruptcy, your debts may be erased in as few as 90 days. Take a minute to imagine how much more effective you could be at tending to your family’s needs if you no longer had to worry constantly about paying your creditors. If you don’t earn much income, you could be eligible to file for Macon bankruptcy under Chapter 7, which would mean that you wouldn’t be obligated to pay back many kinds of debt whatsoever.
When thinking about filing bankruptcy in Macon, you may hesitate to learn more because you’re a hardworking and responsible person dedicated to paying back what you owe. It’s important to understand that hardworking, responsible people file for bankruptcy every day for one simple reason: Sometimes, no matter how hard you work or how much you try not to spend your income, you still might not be able to make ends meet. Filing for bankruptcy doesn’t mean that you are, in any conceivable way, lazy or irresponsible. It means that sometimes life is tough and you need to take advantage of the best solutions available so that you can build a stronger foundation for tomorrow’s challenges.
Macon Bankruptcy Lawyers – Estimated Cost
The idea of hiring an attorney to help you with the process of filing bankruptcy in Macon can be overwhelming. After all, if you’re considering bankruptcy, you likely don’t have access to financial resources that will allow you to pay a lawyer’s fee. You may understandably be wondering, “How much does a Macon bankruptcy lawyer cost?” The surprising answer to this question is, “Hang on a second. You might not need to worry about the cost of a bankruptcy lawyer at all.” Unless your finances are uniquely complex, you shouldn’t need to hire an attorney to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy successfully. The Court has purposefully kept this process straightforward because so few low-income filers can afford to hire an attorney. If you want to hire bankruptcy assistance in Macon, you can do so for between $649 - $1,500. However, if you want to save money and you feel comfortable following step-by-step directions, you should be able to file on your own.
How to File Bankruptcy in Macon, Georgia for Free
If you’d like to learn more about how filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Macon works, please read over the following information about the Georgia bankruptcy process. Once you know what to expect from the process, you’ll be able to make an informed decision about whether filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a good option for you and your family.
Collect Your Macon Bankruptcy Documents
When you had to do homework as a kid, did you set out all your assignments and gather all your supplies first or did you dig right into whatever assignment you grabbed out of your backpack first? When it comes to filing bankruptcy in Macon, you’ll benefit from taking a “gather all your supplies first” approach, even if you’re a “dig right in” kind of person. To effectively explain why you should be granted debt relief under Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Macon, you’ll need to explain to the Court why your income is insufficient to cover your debts and expenses at the same time. The Court will request accurate accounting of your income, expenses, and debts so that it can make a fair judgment in your case. By gathering recent bank statements, pay stubs, your most recent tax return, and a copy of your current credit report, you’ll be able to answer the Court’s financial questions efficiently without having to stop again and again to find your financial information.
Take Credit Counseling
How do you know whether filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Macon is the best way forward? It’s hard to answer that question in a concise way when everyone’s financial challenges are different. To help potential Macon bankruptcy filers make an informed decision about whether bankruptcy is the best option available for their unique circumstances, the Court requires anyone who files for bankruptcy to participate in a credit counseling course during the six months before they file for bankruptcy relief. This course helps individuals explore debt relief options and understand more about the bankruptcy process. When choosing a course to take, make sure it has been approved by the Department of Justice for the Middle District of Georgia or your participation won’t fulfill the Court’s pre-filing educational requirement.
Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
If you have done any research before now regarding how to file bankruptcy in Macon, you’re aware that the process requires filling out and submitting a lot of paperwork to the Court. Some people are understandably intimidated by the idea of completing legal paperwork without the help of an attorney. It’s important to understand that the paperwork involved in filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Macon is pretty straightforward. Most of the time, you can significantly benefit from hiring an attorney when filing legal action with the Court. However, Chapter 7 bankruptcy paperwork is clear-cut enough and comes with easy-to-follow directions that you can feel confident filing on your own if you choose to do so.
Get Your Filing Fee
When filing bankruptcy in Macon, you’ll be asked to pay a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing fee of $335. Don’t panic if this fee is insurmountable for your family right now. If you live below 150% of the poverty line, the Court will likely grant you a fee waiver if you submit the proper request documentation with the rest of your paperwork. If you’re filing for Macon bankruptcy and you earn too much income to qualify for a fee waiver, you may ask the Court for permission to pay your fee in more manageable installments. If you’re required to pay the filing fee (in installments or all at once) note that the Middle District only accepts certified checks or money orders from individual filers. You may not submit a personal check, cash or make a payment by credit card.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
One of the least convenient things about Macon bankruptcy involves the fact that you aren’t allowed to submit your paperwork online. Instead, you’ll need to physically print your forms and either hand deliver them to the courthouse or submit them through the mail. The reason why this is such an inconvenient part of the process is that most American families don’t own functioning printers anymore. Thankfully, each of the 14 branches of the Middle Georgia Regional Library System has printers for the public to use for a minimal fee. Alternatively, filers can visit a business, like Fed-Ex, that offers printing services for a fee as well.
Go to Court to File Your Forms
Have you ever visited a courthouse? Much like you would at an airport, you’re required to walk through a metal detector upon arrival. You would think that this would be the only hurdle associated with visiting a courthouse. But you should know that the Middle District of Georgia also has very strict rules regarding cell phone use. When you’re filing bankruptcy in Macon at the courthouse at 433 Cherry Street, consider leaving your cell phone at home. Also, make sure to bring a photo ID along, as well as an extra copy for the clerk to stamp for your records. If you can’t file your paperwork in person, you can submit your forms via mail but they will take longer to be processed and delivered that way.
Mail Documents to Your Trustee
Before the Court makes a decision in your case, it asks a Trustee to sit down with you and ask you some questions about your finances. Georgia bankruptcy is a complex process. Asking a Trustee to clarify some financial matters with you can help the Court to reach a fair judgment regarding your request for bankruptcy relief. Before your Trustee can ask you about your finances, they need to learn a little bit about them. As a result, you’ll be asked to forward the Trustee some of the documents you used as a reference when you filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Macon. Once your Trustee is assigned by the Court, you’ll be told which documents (including recent pay stubs and tax returns) to forward, who to forward them to, and when to forward them by.
Take Bankruptcy Course 2
Filing for Macon bankruptcy helps many filers achieve significant debt relief that enables them to focus on financial matters other than debt. The Court recognizes that a successful bankruptcy process doesn’t often provide a total solution to all of a debtor’s financial challenges. For this reason, the Court requires filers to participate in a debtor education course that has been approved by the Department of Justice for filers in the Middle District of Georgia. This class will give you access to knowledge that may help you to build a financial foundation that is stronger and more resilient in the wake of your bankruptcy case.
Attend Your 341 Meeting
The final task you will undertake before the Court makes a decision in your case involves attending a meeting with your Trustee and any of your creditors who choose to attend. This gathering is known as a “341 meeting.” Chances are that the meeting will last 10-20 minutes and will likely just consist of you and your Trustee as creditors don’t attend many Chapter 7 341 meetings in person. Before you’re asked any questions about your finances and why you’re filing bankruptcy in Macon, you’ll be placed under oath. Therefore, it’s vitally important that you tell the truth as misleading your Trustee while you’re under oath is a crime.
Dealing with Your Car
Not all debts are eligible to be discharged outright by the Court. If you’re responsible for car payments on a vehicle you don’t yet own outright, the Court won’t just erase your debt burden while simultaneously allowing you to keep your car. If you want to be free of the responsibility to you’re your car payments, you’ll need to surrender your car by returning it to your creditor. If you want to keep your car after filing bankruptcy in Macon, you’ll need to reaffirm your debt or redeem your car. Redeeming your car means paying for the car in one payment based on its current market value, and discharging the rest of the loan. To reaffirm your debt, you’ll seek the Court’s permission to keep making payments per the terms of your loan. If you choose this option, be prepared to explain why you’ll now be able to manage a timely payment schedule per the terms of your loan.
Georgia Bankruptcy Means Test, Bankruptcy Forms, and Exemptions for Macon
Georgia Means Test
If you don’t meet specific income limits adjusted for your household size and other eligibility criteria outlined in the Georgia bankruptcy Means Test for Chapter 7, you won’t be able to file for bankruptcy relief under this Chapter of the Bankruptcy Code. You’ll instead benefit from speaking with an experienced attorney about filing for a bankruptcy alternative, like Chapter 13. However, if you pass this Georgia bankruptcy Means Test, you’ll be able to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Macon with confidence.
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
The Middle District does not require anyone filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Macon to fill out any local Georgia bankruptcy forms as a matter of course. This means that all the forms you need to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy are standard, federal forms used nationwide. Even though the process of filling out your bankruptcy paperwork can be challenging, you can be thankful that the Middle District doesn’t require any additional forms on top of those that everyone in the country filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy relief needs to fill out.
When you file for Macon bankruptcy you need to take precautions to keep your eligible property safe from being sold by your Trustee to pay your creditors back. Specifically, you’ll need to identify which Georgia bankruptcy exemptions apply to your property as you fill out a form referred to as Schedule C. When your Georgia bankruptcy exemptions are properly applied to your property, that property can’t be touched by your Trustee. Don’t worry about federal bankruptcy exemptions as you fill out Schedule C because Georgia is not one of the handful of states that allows filers to take advantage of this model.