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Schedule C: Property Serving Families Throughout Mobile

Schedule C: Property Exemptions in Baldwin County

Legal Services in Mobile, Loxley, Gulf Shores & throughout Southern Alabama

At Ryan Legal Services, we frequently have people tell us they want to avoid filing a bankruptcy case because they are afraid they will lose their property. Although this can happen in some situations, the law offers certain protections that allow most people to retain all of their property. The type of bankruptcy, limits for state and federal bankruptcy exemptions, and other factors determine the amount of property that may be retained in a specific situation. For this reason, it is best to get advice from a knowledgeable Mobile bankruptcy attorney about your unique circumstances.

Discover how property exemptions apply to your situation in a free consultation. Call (251) 241-5234 to schedule an appointment.

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Property Exemptions in Alabama

There are state and federal exemptions for bankruptcy. Many states use the federal exemptions, but others have separate state exemptions. The legislature has decided that Alabama will operate under state legislation regarding bankruptcy exemptions. This issue can become a bit more complex, if the person just moved to Alabama. Our bankruptcy attorney can advise you about how exemptions apply to you, depending on when you moved to Alabama and which state you moved from.

Current exemptions in Alabama include:

  • Homestead – Exemptions include real property or a mobile home, up to $15,000 and no more than 160 acres; a homestead declaration must be recorded prior to selling the property
  • Personal Property – A burial place, church pew, clothing, books, and family pictures
  • Tools of Trade – Uniforms, arms, and equipment required for state military personnel
  • Wages – 75% of weekly net income or 30 times the federal minimum wage for consumer loans, leases, and credits sales. A higher amount may be approved by a judge for low income earners.
  • Insurance – Proceeds from life insurance, mutual aid association benefits, fraternal benefit society benefits, and annuity or disability proceeds of up to $250 per month
  • Pensions – Tax exempt retirement accounts, IRAs, Roth IRAs, pensions for judges, teachers, law enforcement officers, and state employees
  • Public Benefits – Workers’ compensation, unemployment compensation, crime victims’ compensation, South Asian war POW benefits, and other public assistance, including earned income tax credit
  • Wildcard – This covers $7,500 of personal property, other than wages.

In some federal statues, federal law applies, such as Social Security, non-public pensions, military benefits, and IRA assets. Because each situation is unique, you may want to consult with a Mobile bankruptcy lawyer to learn how exemptions apply to your case.

For more information or to schedule a consultation, call our law firm today at (251) 241-5234. Saturday appointments are available in Loxley or Mobile.

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Have questions? We are here to help. Still have questions or can't find the answer you need? Give us a call at 251-241-5234 today!

  • What are Exemptions?

    Most of the exemptions which will apply in a Chapter 7 case are found under Alabama state law. States are all given the option by Congress to decide whether to operate under their own exemption statutes, or under the exemption statutes set out under Title 11 of the U.S. Code ( the “Bankruptcy Code”). There are additional statutes ( “laws”) in both the United States Code and under the Alabama Code.

    Whenever there is a statute that provides additional protection for your property over and above the standard list of exemptions, you can claim these exemptions to further protect your property. Failure to timely claim an exemptions can have the effect of a waiver of that exemption. This means it is highly important to provide your lawyer ( “attorney”) with all of the information he or she requests from you concerning your property. The panel trustee is only able to seize and liquidate property to pay creditors which is not subject to a legal exemption under Alabama OR federal law.

    In Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases, the Debtor keeps all property. Exemptions are still important to identify and claim in your case, however. Failure to claim all of your exemptions in a Chapter 13 case can result in you being required to pay your creditors more than you would otherwise owe them if all exemptions were claimed.

    At Ryan Legal Services, Inc., we are highly knowledgeable and keep up to date with respect to Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy exemptions. We represent individual clients in Baldwin, Mobile and Washington Counties.

    Kevin Ryan is an experienced bankruptcy lawyer who will be there for you. Call us to set up a free telephone or office consultation. Kevin Ryan is admitted to practice before the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Alabama.

  • What is a Reaffirmation Agreement?

    You may decide that you would like to keep your relationship with certain creditors in a Chapter 7 case. The procedure to maintain certain debts post-bankruptcy is called Reaffirmation. Reaffirmation is accomplished by entering into a written agreement with the creditor using one of a number of Official Bankruptcy Forms. Usually, the debtor and creditor simply re-establish the original terms of the loan. In some cases, the creditor may agree to reduce an interest rate, or modify the original contract terms as an incentive for the debtor to reaffirm the debt.

    Reaffirmation of a long term mortgage loan or an auto loan may be something a debtor would want to consider in the context of filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case. The terms of the agreement, and whether the agreement would be in the client's best interest is something that a competent lawyer will discuss with a client. Reaffirmation of a mortgage or auto loan will cause the future payments to be reported to the major credit bureaus ( Trans Union, Experian and Equifax). Timely payments will help raise the debtor's credit score after the bankruptcy discharge order is issued in the Chapter 7 bankruptcy case.

    A debtor will generally have only forty-five (45) days after the conclusion of the Meeting of Creditors to file the Reaffirmation Agreement. The debtor is required to file Official Bankruptcy Form 8 ( Statement of Intent) with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court that identifies the debtor's intent with respect to secured debts like auto and car loans. A debtor is never required to reaffirm any debt in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case.

    At Ryan Legal Services, Inc, we have been representing individuals in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy matters since 1998. We represent individuals in Baldwin, Mobile and Washington Counties.

    Kevin Ryan is an experienced bankruptcy lawyer who will be there for you. Call us to set up a free telephone or office consultation.

  • Should I Transfer Property Pre-Bankruptcy?

    There are some cases where a client can meet with a lawyer and make arrangements to change the ownership of property, sell property, or dispose of property prior to filing a bankruptcy case. However, this should never be interpreted as a blank license to indiscriminately transfer assets out of your name. You should never transfer title to any property, or spend any amount of money that is not allocated towards necessary household bills, utilities, and pre-existing secured debt payments prior to consulting with a bankruptcy lawyer. The initial office consultation with a lawyer is dedicated mostly to discussing these issues. A lawyer will always be interested in meeting with you sooner rather than later so that these potential issues can be identified and properly addressed prior to moving forward on your case.

    Transfers of property, or spending discretionary funds prior to filing a bankruptcy case can often result in negative consequences when you later file a bankruptcy case. Every bankruptcy case presents different circumstances, and different opportunities to legally protect your property from creditors. The objective in most bankruptcy cases is to protect all or as much of your property while terminating all or most of your debt. This is usually where a bankruptcy case can become too complicated for a person to obtain all of the benefits of a bankruptcy filing by filing a case without hiring a lawyer. The best bankruptcy attorneys set and accomplish goals with their clients to protect the maximum amount of property and obtain a discharge of all or a maximum amount of the client(s)' debt in the least amount of time.

    You should not transfer any of your property until you speak with a qualified, experienced bankruptcy attorney. At Ryan Legal Services, Inc., Attorney Kevin Ryan has more than 18 years experience handling complex Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy matters. Call now to schedule a free telephone or office consultation. We are happy to discuss these issues with you personally and confidentially.

    Kevin Ryan is an experienced bankruptcy lawyer who will be there for you. Call us to set up a free telephone or office consultation.

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