Written by the Upsolve Team.
Updated September 30, 2020
Living in a city that prides itself on being an excellent hostess 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 and it’s surprisingly easy for even the most fiscally responsible individuals to find themselves in this position from time to time. If you’ve stopped answering the phone because creditors are your most frequent callers, know that there are solutions available to you and your family. You don’t have to continue to work incredibly hard every day just to spend the night worrying about how you’ll manage to put food on the table and pay your debts at the same time. One option you may have not considered yet is filing for Georgia bankruptcy. Some people are understandably hesitant to consider filing bankruptcy in Savannah because they have been misinformed about what the process entails or they are worried that this choice will be judged by others. Know that in the wake of the Great Recession of 2008, the stigma associated with filing for personal bankruptcy has been all but erased. Americans now understand that hardworking and responsible adults can (far too easily) fall on hard times through no fault of their own. Bankruptcy serves as a way to eliminate your debts so that you can focus both on your family’s immediate financial needs and the benefits of a strong financial future.
Filing for Savannah bankruptcy isn’t the best option for every family. It’s important to be informed about your bankruptcy options before you commit to filing, as this debt relief option may or may not be right for your particular circumstances. However, chances are that if you don’t earn much income and you don’t own much unusually expensive property, filing for bankruptcy under Chapter 7 may be a path worthy of your consideration. Whereas filing bankruptcy under Chapter 13 reorganizes your debt so that it’s easier to make your monthly debt payments, filing bankruptcy under Chapter 7 eliminates many kinds of debt so that you no longer have to pay your creditors back.
Savannah Bankruptcy Lawyers – Estimated Cost
If you’re thinking about filing bankruptcy in Savannah you may be understandably preoccupied with the question, “How much does a Savannah bankruptcy lawyer cost?” Many people are surprised to learn that they don’t necessarily need to worry about the cost of a bankruptcy lawyer at all. If you don’t earn much income and your financial situation isn’t unusually complex, you probably don’t need to hire bankruptcy assistance in Savannah to file bankruptcy under Chapter 7. This process is so clear-cut that as long as you follow directions provided by the Court, you can file the paperwork yourself while saving money on legal fees. If you do decide to hire an attorney, know that these services cost between $649 - $1,500 for a Chapter 7 case in your area.
How to File Bankruptcy in Savannah, Georgia for Free
Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Savannah could allow you access to the fresh start your family needs right now. To make an informed decision about whether Georgia bankruptcy is right for you, you’ll want to consider the following information about how this process works for the average filer.
Collect Your Savannah Bankruptcy Documents
It can be easy to feel overwhelmed when you first access all the paperwork you’ll need to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Savannah. Yes, you’ll need to complete many forms when filing bankruptcy in Savannah, but it’s important to understand that the majority of these forms are straightforward and don’t require much effort to complete. For example, there is a form whose sole purpose is asking you to confirm that you wrote your Social Security number down correctly. Some of these forms will take some time to complete, but you can make this process more efficient simply by gathering together some personal financial documents before you begin. By tracking down your most recent tax returns, your current credit report, recent bank statements, and recent pay stubs before you start filling out your forms, you can avoid having to hunt around for information requested by the Court over and over again.
Take Credit Counseling
It has often been observed that the first step on any journey is often the most difficult step a person can take. That is partially because deciding to move forward requires courage and a belief that the risks and challenges that may present themselves will be outweighed by the benefits of one’s efforts. It’s unquestionably difficult and courageous to choose to file for bankruptcy relief. The Court wants to make sure that filers understand their options before taking this important step toward financial stability. That way, their journey toward debt relief is an informed one. Partially for this reason, the Court requires filers of Savannah bankruptcy to take a pre-filing credit counseling course during the six months before they file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Savannah. When choosing a course, make sure it has been approved by the Department of Justice for residents of the Southern District of Georgia so that your participation fulfills this requirement. Once you’ve completed this course, you’ll hopefully be ready to take the first step in your filing “journey.”
Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
Chances are that before you decided to take advantage of the benefits associated with Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Savannah, you Googled “how to file bankruptcy in Savannah.” When you first researched this topic, did the amount of paperwork involved scare you off for a while? This is a normal response to learning about the bankruptcy process, as filling out legal paperwork is usually an overwhelming and tedious task. However, filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy specifically is an unusually straightforward process. As long as you follow the Court’s step-by-step directions, you should not only be able to file your paperwork successfully, you should be able to do so without hiring an attorney, if you can’t afford to do so.
Get Your Filing Fee
Most of the time, when people choose to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, they’re required to pay a $338 filing fee. However, the Court is well-aware that many low-income filers can’t pay a fee this large without suffering unreasonable financial hardship. If the cost of filing bankruptcy in Savannah is too steep for your household budget to absorb all at once, you may take advantage of one of two options. First, if you live below 150% of the poverty line, you can ask the Savannah Bankruptcy Court to approve a formal request for a fee waiver. If the Court approves your request, it’ll evaluate your case for free. Second, you can ask the Court for permission to pay your fee in installments. Sometimes, paying this fee in smaller amounts over time makes the cost of filing for bankruptcy more manageable.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
It seems that the U.S. Bankruptcy Courts have yet to “get the memo” that nowadays, most business is done online. While you can fill out most of your Savannah bankruptcy forms online as fillable PDFs, you can’t actually file your case online. Instead, you’re required to physically print out your forms and to either submit them via postal mail or in person at the courthouse. If you’re like most Americans, you no longer have a functioning printer at home. Fear not! You can print your forms out for a fee at either a business that provides printing services or at one of the 19 branches of the Live Oak Public Libraries.
Go to Court to File Your Forms
Savannah is part of the Southern District of Georgia. This Bankruptcy Court conveniently accepts bankruptcy petitions, both in person and via postal mail, at the impressive Savannah courthouse located at 125 Bull Street. If you can file your forms in person, it’s generally preferable to do so. Not only can you ask the clerk to stamp an extra set of your forms for your records, you can ensure that your paperwork doesn’t get lost in the mail. Also, by dropping off your forms in person, you avoid the delay that happens when filers have to wait for their forms to be delivered and processed with the rest of the Court’s mail. When you’re filing bankruptcy in Savannah, it can be freeing to “get the show on the road.”
Mail Documents to Your Trustee
When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Savannah, a Trustee will be appointed by the Court to manage aspects of your case. Most low-income filers are only impacted by their Trustee in one or two significant ways. If a filer has any property that isn’t protected, their Trustee will decide whether to sell that non-exempt property for the benefit of the filer’s creditors. This is rare in a Chapter 7 case, but it does sometimes happen when a filer possesses unusually valuable property. However, all filers meet with their Trustees face-to-face during a so-called “341 meeting.” During this meeting, a Trustee asks the filer questions about their finances in the presence of any of that filer’s creditors who choose to attend the meeting. To prepare for this meeting, the Trustee reviews documents like recent pay stubs and tax returns to familiarize themselves with the filer’s finances. Once the Georgia Bankruptcy Court assigns a Trustee to your case, you’ll be told which documents to forward and when you must forward them by.
Take Bankruptcy Course 2
Did you find your pre-filing credit counseling course to be helpful? If you were already confident that bankruptcy was the best option for your circumstances, you may not have gotten much out of this course. However, the second course the Court requires filers to complete promises to be valuable for all filers. This course, which must be approved by the Department of Justice for residents of the Southern District of Georgia, focuses on personal financial management. The Court insists that filers participate in this debtor education course so that they can get the most out of their Savannah bankruptcy. A fresh start doesn’t always do filers much good if they remain unsure of how to manage their finances successfully moving forward. This course provides valuable information about building a strong financial future.
Attend Your 341 Meeting
Although you can choose to prepare for your 341 meeting in various ways, all you must do is show up on time with your photo ID and an official copy of your Social Security card and answer your Trustee’s questions truthfully. Before your Trustee asks you questions about your finances, you’ll be placed under oath. Just as you swore that the paperwork you turned in when filing bankruptcy in Savannah was completed honestly and accurately, you’ll need to give honest and accurate answers to your Trustee’s questions. Misleading your Trustee is just as serious as misleading the Court, which is a crime.
Dealing with Your Car
If you don’t own a car, you can skip this section. If you own your car outright and you can apply an exemption that covers the full value of your car, you can also skip this section as the Court will let you keep your vehicle. But if you’re still making payments on a car, know that filing bankruptcy in Savannah will mean making a tough decision about whether to keep paying down your debt. Unlike many of your other debts, the Court won’t erase outstanding debt to an auto lender. If you have the resources to redeem your car by paying the remainder of your balance in one payment, you can do that. But if you lack the resources to redeem your car, you’ll need to either surrender your car by returning it to your creditor or reaffirm your debt. To reaffirm your debt, you’ll ask the Court’s permission to keep making car payments and you’ll explain how you’ll manage to make timely payments per the terms of your loan moving forward.
Georgia Bankruptcy Means Test, Bankruptcy Forms, and Exemptions for Savannah
Georgia Bankruptcy Means Test
Not everyone passes the baseline test that renders them eligible to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Savannah. Only low-income individuals and families that meet certain income limits adjusted for household size pass the Georgia bankruptcy Means Test for Chapter 7. If, after using a Means Test calculator, you learn that you don’t meet the eligibility criteria for the Georgia bankruptcy Means Test for Chapter 7, you can work with an attorney to determine whether filing for bankruptcy under Chapter 13 is a more appropriate option for you and your family.
Median Income Levels for Georgia
Georgia Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2021
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Poverty Levels for Georgia
Georgia Fee Waiver Eligibility for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2021
Eligible for fee waiver when under 150% the poverty level.
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Georgia Bankruptcy Forms
Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Savannah means that you will have to fill out a series of standard, federal bankruptcy forms used across the nation. In addition, you’ll need to submit one local Georgia bankruptcy form required by the Southern District called a Transmittal of Pay Advices.
When you file for Savannah bankruptcy, you’ll be asked to identify Georgia bankruptcy exemptions to attach to your property. This process is critically important because Georgia bankruptcy exemptions will allow you to keep your eligible property safe from being sold by your Trustee. Any property that isn’t considered exempt can be sold to pay back your creditors, so take care to identify exemptions to attach to as much of your property as possible. If none of your possessions are unreasonably expensive, you should be able to insulate most or all of your stuff from the risk of being sold by your Trustee.