• Phone: (864) 232-2007
  • Fax: (864) 232-8496
  • Ogletree Building
  • 300 North Main Street, Suite 201
  • Greenville, SC 29601

Is It or Isn’t It Covered? Personal Exemptions When Filing for Bankruptcy

Posted on July 26th, 2013

When filing for personal bankruptcy, many believe that creditors will lay claim to all of your possessions in order to repay debts. However, within the U.S. and South Carolina law books, there are a set of laws commonly referred to as “asset protection.”  These laws are put in place to make sure that people who have filed for bankruptcy can maintain certain assets.

There are two key provisions of asset protection; what property can and cannot be protected and who is able to apply for exemptions.

US bankruptcy exemption law includes protection for:

  • A percent of wages
  • Social Security benefits
  • Civil Service benefits (such as working for the U.S. Department of  Foreign Affairs)
  • Veterans benefits

Within South Carolina there are additional exemptions:

  • Homestead (real property including co-op) or burial plot exemption up to $53,375 with joint-owners allowed to double exemption to $106,750
  • Cash or liquid asset exemption up to $5,625 in lieu of the homestead exemption
  • Motor vehicles exemption up to $5,625
  • Tools of trade (items necessary for employment) exemption up to $1,675
  • Jewelry exemption up to $1,125
  • Wild Card (any property from unused exemptions for homestead, burial, motor vehicle, personal property, or tool of trade exemptions) up to $5,625

An individual debtor must have an ownership interest in the property in order to claim any of the above excemptions.

Exemptions for alimony, child support, disability services, pensions, and life insurance are handled on a case by case basis.  For any additional information on what exemptions you may qualify for, please contact Skinner Law Firm LLC.

4 Causes of Personal Bankruptcy

Posted on June 7th, 2013

Skinner Law Firm is dedicated to providing you with solutions to the problems that lead to personal bankruptcy.  Filing for bankruptcy can come with the stigmas of over-spending and poor financial planning, but we realize that this is not always the case. The following are four major causes that lead to personal bankruptcy filings and how to best avoid these situations.

1. Unforeseen Medical Expenses

A study from Harvard University stated that unforeseen medical expenses were the cause of 62% of bankruptcy filings in a given year.  While you cannot always plan for these expenses, we encourage our customers to have a prepared financial budget and proper insurance.  Insurance plans can be costly, but having sound coverage can be beneficial if unexpected medical expenses begin to add up.

Creating an emergency monetary fund is the best way to avoid this situation.  These cash or liquid funds should be created to cover three months to a year of living expenses.

2. Shift in Income

Job loss, disability placement, divorce or death can shift a household’s income dynamic and put a person at risk of bankruptcy.

Creating an alternative plan to cover expenses ahead of time can help you avoid filing for bankruptcy.  

3. Uncontrolled Spending

Uncontrolled spending still remains a major cause of bankruptcy filings. Skinner Law Firm encourages our clients create and maintain a budget so they are equipped to better manage their money in the future.

One of the best tips we can offer is to use cash for necessary purchases.  Smaller charges for items such as groceries can quickly add up and be damaging to your bottom line.

4. Identity Protection

Protection against identity theft is critical in preventing bankruptcy filings.  While banking or online shopping, make sure sites where you enter personal information begin with “https://” instead of the normal “http://.”  The “s” should always make you think “security”.

Both paper and online identity theft still remain a national issue can be prevented by shredding old credit cards or documents with personal information