Legal Question in Credit and Debt Law in Georgia

If my mother has a civil judgement against her from credit card debt what can be done to her. Her only income is social security. She has no assests such as a home or car. The only thing she has is personal furniture and such as that

Asked on 6/23/13, 6:16 am

2 Answers from Attorneys

Glen Ashman Ashman Law Office

You asked the exact same question yesterday, except you changed the facts to say the creditor already won, which makes this more of an emergency. The answer yesterday still applies (except that the time for defenses may be over):

"Her social security cannot be attached, however, depending on how many months worth she has in the bank, a bank account could be. In some cases she should file bankruptcy. In some she may have a defense. Either way she needs to see a lawyer within 30 days of being sued."

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Answered on 6/23/13, 6:27 am

When a creditor gets a judgment, they are entitled to enforce it by way of a writ of execution called a Fieri Facias or FiFa. With the FiFa, the creditor can seize any assets owned free and clear, garnish wages or seize bank accounts. Judgments also can be a lien on any real property.

If your mother has no land and no car, then she need not worry about those assets. The Social Security is exempt, provided that Social Security money is not commingled with non-Social Security money of your mother or another person. That means if anyone else is on the bank account with your mother (you or another child), that money is not protected and the exemption may be lost so get the other person's name off there now. Same if your mother deposits non-Social Security money into the same account. She should stop doing that if she is.

If your mother is on Social Security, I am assuming she does not work. If that is the case, then she does not have to worry about wage garnishment. If she does work, the creditor can get up to 25% of her disposable pay, depending on how much she makes and how frequently she gets paid (by the week, bi-weekly or monthly). Does she also get retirement? That may or may not be exempt depending on what it is.

Georgia only provides $5000 for personal property exemptions other than cash.

Options for dealing with this range from doing nothing to litigating to filing bankruptcy. If your mother is 93 and in a nursing home, this debt should be the least of her worries and she probably should do nothing. If she has a lot of debt (over $10,000), and she can't stand the thought of wage garnishment or asset seizure then she might want to consider bankruptcy. She should litigate if she has a valid defense (like the statute of limitations or identity theft) or if the debt was sold to a junk debt buyer who cannot prove its her debt.

Most credit card debts can be settled for between 40% and 80% of the amount sought, but exact amounts will depend on who is suing and the law firm. Some creditors are more difficult than others.

If your mother wishes to resolve the debt outside of bankruptcy or litigation and has about 50% of whatever the creditor is asking for, please have your mother contact me at [email protected]

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Answered on 6/24/13, 1:37 am

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