Bankruptcy in South Carolina
South Carolina is an incredibly beautiful, popular, and historical state. Families and retirees flock to the state to make a new lives for themselves. Hundreds of thousands visit each year and 4,679,230 call South Carolina home.
However, South Carolina, like every other state, has been hit by hard economic times and people, from Charleston, Columbia, Hilton Head, Myrtle Beach, Manning, Lexington, Newberry, and Orangeburg and everywhere in between, have been hit by rough economic times.
Sometimes bankruptcy is the answer to an overwhelmingly distressful financial situation. If you need a fresh start like so many others, please kindly read on. This article will help you.
In this article, we’ll show you how South Carolina bankruptcy law differs from the laws of other states; discuss whether you should file bankruptcy under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13; guide you through finding a qualified bankruptcy lawyer; and help you to prepare to work with a your attorney.
How South Carolina Bankruptcy Law Differs from the Laws of Other States
South Carolina is unique in the property that its bankruptcy laws protect. These laws are similar to other states, but not the same; and, federal bankruptcy exemptions are not available.
- If you own a house, and are filing as an individual, $53,375 of equity is protected.
- If you own a house, and are filing jointly with a spouse, $106,750 of equity is protected.
- If you own a car, you can protect up to $5,350; double that if you’re married and filing jointly.
- Animals and crops are protected up to $4,275; double that if you’re married and filing jointly.
- Jewelry is protected up to $1,075; double that if you’re married and filing jointly.
Your retirement plan, life insurance, and college investment plan accounts are also likely protected. This is all great news; most folks who file bankruptcy don’t lose any assets.
Federal law dictates the bankruptcy proceedings procedure so it’s the same in every state.
Your Choices in Filing Bankruptcy in South Carolina: Chapter 7 or Chapter 13
When you file your bankruptcy petition (it’s like an application), you must tell the court whether you are filing under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 of the bankruptcy code.
Chapter 7 means that your unsecured debts may be discharged, including credit card and medical bills as well as personal loans. The exemptions discussed immediately above limit the assets you can keep. If you have over the limit, the assets are sold to pay off your debts.
However, bankruptcy attorneys are very good at protecting assets and most folks don’t lose any assets at all. You must qualify for Chapter 7 by meeting the “means test” and the most obvious way to do that is by having an income lower than South Carolina’s median income.
If you’re single, you can make up to $37,660 or up to $62,912 for a family of four, and still qualify for Chapter 7. There are exceptions to this rule, so if you don’t overtly qualify, be sure to consult with a qualified bankruptcy attorney.
Chapter 13 is for those who don’t qualify for Chapter 7, have high non-dischargeable debt, or just don’t want to file Chapter 7 for some other reason.
Under Chapter 13, some debts are discharged; others are renegotiated so you’ll make future payments under more favorable terms. You pay off debts under a 3 to 5 year plan.
How to Find a Qualified Bankruptcy Attorney
The best ways to find a qualified bankruptcy lawyer is some combination of:
- Referrals from family and friends.
- Referrals from professional advisors or the local bar association.
- Internet search for “Find a South Carolina Bankruptcy Attorney”.
- A meeting or conversation with prospective attorneys.
How to Prepare to Work with a Bankruptcy Attorney
Pull together all of your financial papers, including:
- Mortgage contracts
- Car payment contracts
- Life insurance policies
- Estimate the value of your house, cars, jewelry, personal items, and bank accounts and any other assets
- Repayments made
Don’t hold anything back. If in doubt, disclose the information. Your bankruptcy attorney needs all of this information to analyze your case and give you good legal advice. Time for a fresh start.