Bankruptcy and The Gun Toting Debtor
When a person files for bankruptcy, what will happen to their guns? In Northwest Georgia, guns are a treasured commodity and part of a favored pastime.
People are so crazy about guns around here that Wal-mart won’t let you buy more than two little boxes at a time. I asked a Wal-mart cashier why I was not allowed to give more of my money to Wal-mart and allow them to make a profit off of me. She responded that if there were no limit on ammunition sales, they would never be able to keep any in stock because it flies off the shelf so fast.
As a bankruptcy attorney, I often hear my clients ask, “They are not going to take my guns are they?” For the vast majority of people filing bankruptcy, the answer to this question is no. I’ve been practicing bankruptcy for over fifteen years and I’ve never seen a trustee take away someone’s guns.
Is there a specific Georgia Bankruptcy Exemption that will protect guns?
The answer to this question is no but don’t get upset just yet. Georgia has a $5,600.00 wildcard exemption that can be used toward gun values.
If you have a gun collection and are considering filing bankruptcy, you need to ask yourself, “how much are my guns really worth?” How much cash could you get for them?
The safest way to proceed to is to find a gun appraiser that will write out their valuation of your collection. For most of my clients, they cannot afford a professional gun appraisal. A free alternative is to go to a pawn shop and ask how much cash the owner will give you for your collection. This will give you a rough idea of the value. It is important to note that the trustee will ask how you came up with the values of your guns. The trustee has right to get their own appraisal. As a consequence, you want to get the most objective evaluation you can before filing.
What is my guns are worth more than what I can exempt? Does this mean that I cannot file bankruptcy?
You can still file bankruptcy but you need to understand liquidation before filing.
If you are filing chapter 13 and you want to keep your guns, your plan must pay back to the unsecured creditors (credit cards, medical bills, and signature loans) the same amount of money that your creditors would get if your guns were liquidated. For example, let’s that you have $5,000.00 of exposed equity and owe $100,000.00 to a credit card company, $50,000 in medical bills and $10,000 on a signature loan from a bank. Your chapter 13 plan must pay a total of $5,000 pro rata to this unsecured class of creditors.
In a Chapter 7 situation, you could file the bankruptcy case but the trustee would take away your guns and sell them. The trustee would have to write you a check for the value that you were able to exempt and then the rest would be distributed to the unsecured pool of creditors.
Bankruptcy is complicated. If you are considering filing a case, take advantage of a free consultation and meet with me or one of my associate attorneys.
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