Ok so let me say ahead of time that I am sorry for the length of this post...... It will be long so bear with me. I co-own a hair salon and been in business for 10 years. In the last few years with the recession I have used my personal credit cards to the tune of $52,000. Plus I have about another $30,000 in other cards and medical bills. I own a home (and I have been told not to reaffirm) that there is no equity in, I am not in the hole just no equity. I would want to stay and continue to pay if this is legal in Georgia. I have a Nissan Altima that I own about $26,000 and it is worth about $18,000, so no equity there. I really don't have a lot of stuff in my house that would meet any exemptions. Except maybe a 40 in. flat screen that is about 1 year old. I don't think I will have any problem meeting the means test. I just received $8,000 from my mother's estate, and I don't want to give this to the credit card companies ( I know, I know that isn't the right thing to say, but I have always paid my debt, I have never been late on anything, but in the past year they have went up on my interest rates considerable from about 12% to about 19%). I would like to keep as much of this money as possible, especially to help pay a lawyer.
My business is a concern. I have a general partnership, but most of the debt is mine because of the use of my personal cards. The business is a service business and wouldn't be worth anything without my and my partners services. All of the furnishings (typical salon furniture) are 10 years old, so not worth much. I would want to keep my business because number 1.... it is the only source of income and number 2 ... we employ 3 other people and I would hate for them to lose their job. Is this possible? Also, we own my sister about $20,000 from a loan we have been paying on for the past 2 years we have another 2 to go. I know that I can't continue to pay her during the bankruptcy proceedings but is it illegal to start paying her after the bankruptcy is discharged.
I am also on my sister's checking account ,I don't put any money in this account, but will they use it as a source of money for me?
So there is my situation in a nutshell......
So to summarize , my questions are...
1. Can I stay in my home and continue to pay without reaffirming.. is it legal in Georgia?
2. Can I keep my car as long as I keep my payments current?
3. Can I keep the $8,000?
4. Can I keep my business?
5. Can I pay my sister after discharge?
6. Do I need to be taken off my sister's checking account?
I know I need to see an attorney (if anyone is around the Savannah area and knows of any good attorney that has business experience), and I will be making an appointment soon.
Strangely I think one of the hardest things for me is going to be not paying my bills and letting them be delinquent, but from everything I have read that is the thing to do.
Any suggestions and answers are greatly appreciated.
I can't answer the GA rules with any certainty, so I'll go based on the standard federal stuff. In any event, you should pay no attention to the web on this one, your situation is one where it's warranted to go see 4-6 BK attorneys then go with the one you're most comfortable with. I'm glad to see from the bottom of your post that you know this.
1. Ususally unless GA has some weird rule
2. Usually, unless you have Ford Motor Credit or some other jerk-store finance company. But, you should surrender it anyway and go pay cash (use that $8K) for a good used car. I don't know the auto limits in GA... consult your attorney before you do this or you could be doomed.
3. No, your attorney will tell you that it will need to be spent (on necessities LIKE THE CAR in #2.) or surrendered.
4. Not if it's worth anything/has assets. The court will force a divvy/liquidation or your partner can buy you out. That cash will become part of the BK estate and be liquidated.
5. Yes. You can repay any debt that's discharged. I included my mother and father in my BK to the tune of about $30K and have since paid them back every penny.
6. You shouldn't be on it anyway, so take yourself off. If it's Wells Fargo (or a similar bank), they'll freeze that account as soon as they recieve notice that you filed.
Good luck, and really: find a good attorney! The attorney is there to help you protect your assets when you file, not get rid of the debt. Do your best to avoid bankruptcy mills, make sure you're meeting with a real attorney, and if you feel pressured at all to sign up: LEAVE.