If you are considering filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the state of Georgia, you may have heard of the Georgia Bankruptcy Means Test. If flashbacks of class finals or medical tests are running through your mind, have no fear. There is no pop quiz, and you will not be required to undergo any rigorous physical exam to pass. But what is the Georgia Bankruptcy Means Test, and why is it important? Here you will find the basics of what the Georgia Means Test is and what it will mean for you.
WHAT IS THE GEORGIA BANKRUPTCY MEANS TEST?
The Georgia Bankruptcy Means Test is a simple test by which the income of higher income filers is input into a calculator to determine if they are eligible to file for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, or if they will, instead, be required to file for bankruptcy under Chapter 13 of the Georgia code.
To determine whether you will have to take the means test, your bankruptcy attorney will look at the total income of your household, including that of any parties contributing whether they are filing for bankruptcy or not. If your total household income is above the median, or average, income of households your size in the state of Georgia, you will need to complete the Georgia Means Test to calculate whether you have the “means” to repay any portion of your unsecured debt through a Chapter 13 bankruptcy repayment plan.
EXCEPTIONS TO THE RULE
There are a few exceptions which will exempt you from being required to pass this test.
BUSINESS DEBT: If the majority of your debt is business debt, you are not required to pass the Georgia Bankruptcy Means Test, and you will be eligible to file Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. These types of debt include: SBA loans, personal guarantees for business debt, loans for rental properties, business credit cards, and various other similar debts. If the business debt you hold is as little as $1 more than personal debt, then you can qualify to file under Chapter 7 of the Georgia Bankruptcy Code.
DISABLED VETERANS: If you are a disabled veteran, and you incurred the majority of your debt while you were in active service, you may be exempt from passing the Means Test.
PASSING THE TEST
The Georgia Bankruptcy Means Test is a complicated form that your bankruptcy lawyer can help you complete. This form takes into account all of your various debts, your entire income, and any equity you may have and all of your monthly expenses. Your income can include, but is not limited to:
interest and dividends
pensions and retirements plans
amounts paid by others for your household expenses
Your attorney will look at your income from the prior six months for consideration.
The expenses portion will include housing, transportation, utilities, and medical expenses. Your bankruptcy attorney will plug all of these various numbers into a this special form and, often with the aid of a specialized software program, will calculate whether you are eligible to file for bankruptcy under Chapter 7. Your lawyer can use this special software to give you every opportunity to pass the means test so that the option of filing under Chapter 7 is available to you, if it is in your best interest.
“I can, but should I?”
It is important to remember that even if you pass the test, Chapter 7 Bankruptcy may not be the best choice for you. Only you and your attorney can determine the best course of action for your specific situation. A reputable bankruptcy attorney can help you decide if filing for bankruptcy is right for you and whether you should file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. If you are considering whether filing for bankruptcy is right for you, take a moment to visit our free online bankruptcy evaluation. This short questionnaire will help you decide if bankruptcy is right for you. If you decide to pursue bankruptcy, you can schedule your consultation with the attorneys of Hall & Navarro. Our experienced staff has helped others like you find the best way to get relief from overwhelming debt. We can help you walk through the overwhelming choices to find financial peace.