Georgia Bankruptcy Exemptions

Laws which protect a debtor’s property when personal bankruptcy is filed in the state of Georgia.

§ 44-13-100. Exemptions for purposes of bankruptcy and intestate insolvent estates

(a) In lieu of the exemption provided in Code Section 44-13-1, any debtor who is a natural person may exempt, pursuant to this article, for purposes of bankruptcy, the following property:

(1) The debtor’s aggregate interest, not to exceed $10,000.00 in value, in real property or personal property that the debtor or a dependent of the debtor uses as a residence, in a cooperative that owns property that the debtor or a dependent of the debtor uses as a residence, or in a burial plot for the debtor or a dependent of the debtor. In the event title to property used for the exemption provided under this paragraph is in one of two spouses who is a debtor, the amount of the exemption hereunder shall be $20,000.00;
(2) The debtor’s right to receive:

(A) A social security benefit, unemployment compensation, or a local public assistance benefit;
(B) A veteran’s benefit;
(C) A disability, illness, or unemployment benefit;
(D) Alimony, support, or separate maintenance, to the extent reasonably necessary for the support of the debtor and any dependent of the debtor;
(E) A payment under a pension, annuity, or similar plan or contract on account of illness, disability, death, age, or length of service, to the extent reasonably necessary for the support of the debtor and any dependent of the debtor; and
(F) A payment from an individual retirement account within the meaning of Title 26 U.S.C. Section 408 to the extent reasonably necessary for the support of the debtor and any dependent of the debtor;

(2.1) The debtor’s aggregate interest in any funds or property held on behalf of the debtor, and not yet distributed to the debtor, under any retirement or pension plan or system:

(A) Which is: (i) maintained for public officers or employees or both by the State of Georgia or a political subdivision of the State of Georgia or both; and (ii) financially supported in whole or in part by public funds of the State of Georgia or a political subdivision of the State of Georgia or both;
(B) Which is: (i) maintained by a nonprofit corporation which is qualified as an exempt organization under Code Section 48-7-25 for its officers or employees or both; and (ii) financially supported in whole or in part by funds of the nonprofit corporation;
(C) To the extent permitted by the bankruptcy laws of the United States similar benefits from the private sector of such debtor shall be entitled to the same treatment as those specified in subparagraphs (A) and (B) of this paragraph, provided that the exempt or nonexempt status of periodic payments from such a retirement or pension plan or system shall be as provided under subparagraph (E) of paragraph (2) of this subsection; or
(D) An individual retirement account within the meaning of Title 26 U.S.C. Section 408;

(3) The debtor’s interest, not to exceed the total of $3,500.00 in value, in all motor vehicles;
(4) The debtor’s interest, not to exceed $300.00 in value in any particular item, in household furnishings, household goods, wearing apparel, appliances, books, animals, crops, or musical instruments that are held primarily for the personal, family, or household use of the debtor or a dependent of the debtor. The exemption of the debtor’s interest in the items contained in this paragraph shall not exceed $5,000.00 in total value;
(5) The debtor’s aggregate interest, not to exceed $500.00 in value, in jewelry held primarily for the personal, family, or household use of the debtor or a dependent of the debtor;
(6) The debtor’s aggregate interest, not to exceed $600.00 in value plus any unused amount of the exemption, not to exceed $5,000.00, provided under paragraph (1) of this subsection, in any property;
(7) The debtor’s aggregate interest, not to exceed $1,500.00 in value, in any implements, professional books, or tools of the trade of the debtor or the trade of a dependent of the debtor;
(8) Any unmatured life insurance contract owned by the debtor, other than a credit life insurance contract;
(9) The debtor’s aggregate interest, not to exceed $2,000.00 in value, less any amount of property of the estate transferred in the manner specified in Section 542(d) of U.S. Code Title 11, in any accrued dividend or interest under, or loan or cash value of, any unmatured life insurance contract owned by the debtor under which the insured is the debtor or an individual of whom the debtor is a dependent;
(10) Professionally prescribed health aids for the debtor or a dependent of the debtor; and
(11) The debtor’s right to receive, or property that is traceable to:

(A) An award under a crime victim’s reparation law;
(B) A payment on account of the wrongful death of an individual of whom the debtor was a dependent, to the extent reasonably necessary for the support of the debtor and any dependent of the debtor;
(C) A payment under a life insurance contract that insured the life of an individual of whom the debtor was a dependent on the date of such individual’s death, to the extent reasonably necessary for the support of the debtor and any dependent of the debtor;
(D) A payment, not to exceed $10,000.00, on account of personal bodily injury, not including pain and suffering or compensation for actual pecuniary loss, of the debtor or an individual of whom the debtor is a dependent; or
(E) A payment in compensation of loss of future earnings of the debtor or an individual of whom the debtor is or was a dependent, to the extent reasonably necessary for the support of the debtor and any dependent of the debtor.

(b) Pursuant to 11 U.S.C. Section 522(b)(1), an individual debtor whose domicile is in Georgia is prohibited from applying or utilizing 11 U.S.C. Section 522(d) in connection with exempting property from his or her estate; and such individual debtor may exempt from property of his or her estate only such property as may be exempted from the estate pursuant to 11 U.S.C. Section 522(b)(2)(A) and (B). For the purposes of this subsection, an ‘individual debtor whose domicile is in Georgia’ means an individual whose domicile has been located in Georgia for the 180 days immediately preceding the date of the filing of the bankruptcy petition or for a longer portion of such 180 day period than in any other place.
(c) The exemptions and protections contained in this article are extended to intestate insolvent estates in all cases where there is a living widow or child of the intestate.
§ 18-4-20. Property subject to garnishment generally; claim amount and defendant’s social security number on summons; information to be contained on summons of garnishment upon financial institution

(a) As used in this Code section, the term:

(1) “Disposable earnings” means that part of the earnings of an individual remaining after the deduction from those earnings of the amounts required by law to be withheld.
(2) “Earnings” means compensation paid or payable for personal services, whether denominated as wages, salary, commission, bonus, or otherwise, and includes periodic payments pursuant to a pension or retirement program.

(b) (b) All debts owed by the garnishee to the defendant at the time of service of the summons of garnishment upon the garnishee and all debts accruing from the garnishee to the defendant from the date of service to the date of the garnishee’s answer shall be subject to process of garnishment; and no payment made by the garnishee to the defendant or to his order, or by any arrangement between the defendant and the garnishee, after the date of the service of the summons of garnishment upon the garnishee, shall defeat the lien of such garnishment.
(c) All property, money, or effects of the defendant in the possession or control of the garnishee at the time of service of the summons of garnishment upon the garnishee or coming into the possession or control of the garnishee at any time from the date of service of the summons of garnishment upon the garnishee to the date of the garnishee’s answer shall be subject to process of garnishment except, in the case of collateral securities in the hands of a creditor, such securities shall not be subject to garnishment so long as there is an amount owed on the debt for which the securities were given as collateral.
(d) (1) Notwithstanding subsection (a) of this Code section, the maximum part of the aggregate disposable earnings of an individual for any work week which is subject to garnishment may not exceed the lesser of:

(1) Twenty-five percent of his disposable earnings for that week; or
(2) The amount by which his disposable earnings for that week exceed 30 times the federal minimum hourly wage prescribed by Section 6(a)(1) of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, U.S.C. Title 29, Section 206(a)(1), in effect at the time the earnings are payable.
(2) In case of earnings for a period other than a week, a multiple of the federal minimum hourly wage equivalent in effect to that set forth in subparagraph (B) of paragraph (1) of this subsection shall be used.

(e) The limitation on garnishment set forth in subsection (d) of this Code section shall apply although the garnishee may receive a summons of garnishment in more than one garnishment case naming the same defendant unless the garnishee has received a summons of garnishment based on a judgment for alimony or the support of a dependent, in which case the limitation on garnishment set forth in subsection (f) of this Code section shall apply although the garnishee may receive a summons of garnishment in more than one garnishment case naming the same defendant. No garnishee shall withhold from the disposable earnings of the defendant any sum greater than the amount prescribed by subsection (d) or subsection (f) of this Code section, as applicable, regardless of the number of summonses served upon the garnishee.
(f) The exemption provided by subsection (d) of this Code section shall not apply if the judgment upon which the garnishment is based is a judgment for alimony or for the support of any dependent of the defendant, provided the summons of garnishment shall contain a notice to the garnishee that the garnishment is based on the judgment for alimony or the support of a dependent. In any case in which the garnishment is based on the judgment, the maximum part of the aggregate disposable earnings of an individual for any workweek which is subject to garnishment shall be 50 percent of the individual’s disposable earnings for that week.
(g) Except as provided in Article 7 of this chapter for a summons of continuing garnishment for support, the summons of garnishment, including a summons of continuing garnishment pursuant to Article 6 of this chapter, shall on its face state the total amount claimed to be due at the time of the summons and the amount subject to garnishment shall not exceed the amount so shown on the summons of garnishment.
(h) The summons of garnishment, including a summons of continuing garnishment, may on its face set forth, if known, the social security number of the defendant.
(i) A summons of garnishment upon a financial institution, or an attachment thereto, shall state with particularity all of the following information, to the extent reasonably available to the plaintiff:

(1) The name of the defendant, and, to the extent such would reasonably enable the garnishee to answer properly the summons, all known configurations, nicknames, aliases, former or maiden names, trade names, or variations thereof;
(2) The service address and the current addresses of the defendant and, to the extent such would reasonably enable the garnishee to answer properly the summons of garnishment and such is reasonably available to the plaintiff, the past addresses of the defendant;
(3) The social security number or federal tax identification number of the defendant; and
(4) Account, identification, or tracking numbers known or suspected by the plaintiff to be used by the garnishee in the identification or administration of the defendant’s funds or property. A misspelling of any information required by paragraph (1) or (2) of this subsection, other than the surname of a natural person defendant, shall not invalidate a summons of garnishment, so long as such information is not misleading in a search of the garnishee’s records.

§ 18-4-21. Garnishment of salaries of officials and employees of state and its subdivisions; exemption; summons
(a) Money due officials or employees of a municipal corporation or county of this state or of the state government, or any department or institution thereof, as salary for services performed for or on behalf of the municipal corporation or county of this state, or the state, or any department or institution thereof, shall be subject to garnishment, except in no event may the officials’ or employees’ salary for services performed for or on behalf of any municipal corporation or county of this state, or the state, or any department or institution thereof, be garnisheed where the judgment serving as a basis for the issuance of the summons of garnishment arises out of the liability incurred in the scope of the officials’ or employees’ governmental employment while responding to an emergency. In such cases, the summons shall be directed to such political entity and served upon the person authorized by law to draw the warrant on the treasury of the government or to issue a check for such salary due, or upon the chief administrative officer of the political subdivision, department, agency, or instrumentality; and such entity is required to answer the summons in accordance with the mandate thereof and as provided by this chapter.
(b) For purposes of this Code section only, the state and its political subdivisions, departments, agencies, and instrumentalities shall be deemed private persons; and jurisdiction for the purpose of issuing a summons of garnishment shall be restricted to a court located in the county in which the warrant is drawn on the treasury of the government or in which the check is issued for the salary due the official or employee of the state or its political subdivisions, departments, agencies, or instrumentalities.

§ 18-4-22. Exemption of pension or retirement funds or benefits
(a) Funds or benefits from a pension or retirement program as defined in 29 U.S.C. Section 1002(2)(A) or funds or benefits from an individual retirement account as defined in Section 408 or 408A of the United States Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, shall be exempt from the process of garnishment until paid or otherwise transferred to a member of such program or beneficiary thereof. Such funds or benefits, when paid or otherwise transferred to the member or beneficiary, shall be exempt from the process of garnishment only to the extent provided in Code Section 18-4-20 for other disposable earnings, unless a greater exemption is otherwise provided by law.
(b) The exemption provided by this Code section shall not apply when the garnishment is based upon a judgment for alimony or for child support, in which event such funds or benefits shall then be subject to the process of garnishment to the extent provided in subsection (f) of Code Section 18-4-20.
(c) Nothing in this Code section shall prohibit the attachment or alienation of welfare benefits as defined in 29 U.S.C. Section 1002(1) in the control of an administrator or trustee.

§ 33-15-62. Exemption of benefits from process
No money or other benefit, charity, relief, or aid to be paid, provided, or rendered by any society shall be liable to attachment, garnishment, or other process or to be seized, taken, appropriated, or applied by any legal or equitable process or operation of law to pay any debt or liability of a member or beneficiary, or any other person who may have a right thereunder, either before or after payment by the society.

§ 33-25-11. Cash surrender value and proceeds of life insurance policies and annuity contracts not liable to attachment, garnishment, or legal process in favor of creditors; proceeds payable to insured’s estate, executor, administrator, or assign to become part of insured’s estate
(a) Whenever any person residing in the state shall die leaving insurance on his or her life, such insurance shall inure exclusively to the benefit of the person for whose use and benefit such insurance is designated in the policy, and the proceeds thereof shall be exempt from the claims of creditors of the insured unless the insurance policy or a valid assignment thereof provides otherwise. Whenever the insurance, by designation or otherwise, is payable to the insured or to the insured’s estate or to his or her executors, administrators, or assigns, the insurance proceeds shall become a part of the insured’s estate for all purposes and shall be administered by the personal representative of the estate of the insured in accordance with the probate laws of the state in like manner as other assets of the insured’s estate.
(b) Payments as directed in this Code section shall, in every such case, discharge the insurer from any further liability under the policy, and the insurer shall in no event be responsible for, or be required to see to, the application of such payments.
(c) The cash surrender values of life insurance policies issued upon the lives of citizens or residents of this state, upon whatever form, shall not in any case be liable to attachment, garnishment, or legal process in favor of any creditor of the person whose life is so insured unless the insurance policy was assigned to or was effected for the benefit of such creditor or unless the purchase, sale, or transfer of the policy is made with the intent to defraud creditors.

§ 33-26-5. Right of beneficiaries and assigns of insurance policies to proceeds as against creditors and representatives of insured
The proceeds and avails of any industrial life insurance policy shall be free from the claims of creditors and representatives of the insured and of persons effecting the same to the same extent and under the same conditions as provided for in the case of other life insurance policies under Code Section 33-25-11.

§ 33-28-7. Proceeds of annuity, reversionary annuity, or pure endowment contracts not liable to attachment, garnishment, or legal process in favor of creditors of beneficiary
The proceeds of annuity, reversionary annuity, or pure endowment contracts issued to citizens or residents of this state, upon whatever form, shall not in any case be liable to attachment, garnishment, or legal process in favor of any creditor of the person who is the beneficiary of such annuity contract unless the annuity contract was assigned to or was effected for the benefit of such creditor or unless the purchase, sale, or transfer of the policy is made with the intent to defraud creditors.

§ 33-29-15. Exemption of policy proceeds from liability for debts of insured and beneficiary
(a) The proceeds or avails of all accident and sickness policies and of provisions providing benefits on account of the insured’s disability which are supplemental to life insurance or annuity contract, except credit accident and sickness policies and credit life policies, shall be exempt from all liability for any debt of the insured and from any debt of the beneficiary existing at the time the proceeds are made available for his use.
(b) The exemption of income benefits payable as the result of disability shall not exceed an average of $250.00 of such benefits per month of the period of disability.

§ 33-30-10. Exemption of group and blanket policy proceeds from liability for debts of insured and beneficiary
The proceeds or avails of all group or blanket accident and sickness policies shall be exempt from all liability for debt to the same extent and under the same conditions as provided for in the case of individual accident and sickness insurance by Code Section 33-29-15.

§ 34-9-84. Assignability of claims (Workers’ compensation)
No claim for compensation under this chapter shall be assignable, and all compensation and claims therefor shall be exempt from all claims of creditors.

§ 47-2-332. Exemption of rights and benefits from taxes, legal process, and assignment of retirement system property as public property; exemptions for retirement system property (Public employees)
(a) The right to a pension, annuity, retirement allowance, return of contributions, the pension, annuity, or retirement allowance itself, any optional benefit, or any other right accrued or accruing to any person under this chapter and the moneys in the various accounts created by this chapter are:

(1) Exempt from any state, county, or municipal tax, except as provided in Code Section 48-7-27;
(2) Exempt from levy and sale, garnishment, attachment, or any other process whatsoever; and
(3) Not assignable except as otherwise specifically provided in this chapter.

(b) The tangible, intangible, real, personal, or mixed property, investments, or assets of the retirement system of whatever kind or nature and the earnings or proceeds derived from such property, investments, or assets are public property and are:

(1) Exempt from taxation by the state or by any county, municipality, authority, or political subdivision of this state; and
(2) Exempt from levy and sale, garnishment, attachment, or any other process whatsoever.

(c) The transfer or sale of tangible, real, personal, or mixed property, investments, or assets to or from the retirement system and the instruments of such transfer or sale shall be exempt from any tax on such sales, transfers, or instruments, which tax is levied by the state or by any county, authority, municipality, or political subdivision of this state.§ 49-4-35. Assistance is neither assignable nor subject to legal process or operation of bankruptcy law; payment of assistance check after death of recipient (Old age assistance)
(a) Assistance granted under this article shall not be transferable or assignable at law or in equity; and none of the money paid or payable under this article shall be subject to execution, levy, attachment, garnishment, or other legal process or to the operation of any bankruptcy or insolvency law.
(b) Where a recipient dies after authorization of his assistance grant but before negotiation of his assistance check for the month in which his death occurs, endorsement of such check without recourse by the department to the spouse or nearest living relative of the recipient shall be sufficient authorization to the drawee bank to pay such check.

§ 49-4-58. Assistance is neither assignable nor subject to legal process; payment of assistance check after death of recipient (Aid to blind)
(a) Assistance granted under this article shall not be transferable or assignable at law or in equity; and none of the money paid or payable under this article shall be subject to execution, levy, attachment, garnishment, or other legal process or to the operation of any bankruptcy or insolvency law.
(b) Where a recipient dies after authorization of his assistance grant but before negotiation of his assistance check for the month in which his death occurs, endorsement of such check without recourse by the department to the spouse or nearest living relative of the recipient shall be sufficient authorization to the drawee bank to pay such check.

§ 49-4-84. Assistance is neither assignable nor subject to legal process or operation of bankruptcy law; payment of assistance check after death of recipient (Aid to disabled)
(a) Assistance granted under this article shall not be transferable or assignable at law or in equity; and none of the money paid or payable under this article shall be subject to execution, levy, attachment, garnishment, or other legal process or to the operation of any bankruptcy or insolvency law.
(b) Where a recipient dies after authorization of his assistance grant but before negotiation of his assistance check for the month in which his death occurs, endorsement of such check without recourse by the department to the spouse or nearest living relative of the recipient shall be sufficient authorization to the drawee bank to pay such check.

Note: While this reference information is current as of August 2010, it may not reflect the most up-to-date exemption figures on official state of Georgia bankruptcy court statutes.

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