Bankruptcy exemptions are laws that protect your property in a bankruptcy. Filing for bankruptcy relief does not mean that you have to give up everything you own.
Bankruptcy exemptions are laws that protect your property in a bankruptcy. Exemption laws exist in both the Bankruptcy Code and in state law.
Property that is exempt can’t be sold for the benefit of your unsecured creditors. To protect your property, you have to claim an appropriate bankruptcy exemption when filing your bankruptcy petition. If you don’t claim any exemptions, or you claim the wrong exemption, the property is not protected from the bankruptcy trustee.
Federal Bankruptcy Exemptions Aren’t Available in Georgia
If you file bankruptcy in Georgia, you must use the Georgia state exemptions. However, you can supplement Georgia’s state exemptions with the federal non-bankruptcy exemptions to protect items such as federal and military retirement accounts and disability benefits.
Georgia Bankruptcy Exemption Domicile Rules
You must be a resident of Georgia for at least 730 days before filing the bankruptcy petition. If you weren’t living in any one state during the two years before filing for bankruptcy, 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. Learn more about filing for bankruptcy after moving to a new state.
Married Couples Can Double Georgia Exemptions
If you file a joint bankruptcy with your spouse in Georgia, you and your spouse can double your exemption amounts for any property that belongs to both of you. For example, you cannot use your vehicle exemption to protect your spouse’s car (unless you are a joint owner of the vehicle).
Here are some of the Georgia bankruptcy exemptions that bankruptcy filers often use. Unless otherwise indicated, all references are to the Official Code of Georgia Annotated.
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)
Alimony and child support necessary for support – 44-13-100(a)(2)(D)
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)
Tools of the Trade
$1,500 of implements, books, & tools of the trade – 44-13-100(a)(7)
$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 and 11 U.S.C. § 522(b)(3)(C)
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
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)