CHARLESTON LAWYER TALKS ABOUT EXEMPTIONS
IN HOUSEHOLD GOODS WHEN YOU FILE IN SOUTH CAROLINA
When you file for bankruptcy, whether the case is one filed under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, many people are afraid that they will lose their household goods. This seldom happens and if it does happen, the debtors usually have antiques. Furniture and other things that you buy at most stores loses value rapidly.
There is a specific exemption in household goods that is set forth in the South Carolina Code of Laws in 15-41-30(A)(3). The first thing that must be reviewed is what are household goods? This can vary based on where you live and the way that something is used. Again the statute says the “debtor’s interest” in the items that you are wanting to protect.
The exemption statute reads as follows: interest in household goods, household furnishings, wearing apparel, appliances, books, animals, crops or musical instruments that are held primarily for the personal, family or household use of the debtor or a dependent of the debtor.
The amount of the exemption is $4,500.00 as of July 1, 2012 and if there is a husband and wife, they can double the exemption. Many times there is concern about the exemption amount. Rest assured that once you have used the furniture, its value is greatly reduced. Over the years, the Chapter 7 Trustee has looked at a lot of furniture and rarely finds enough value to take it and sell it. A Trustee must pay to move it, store it, insure it and pay your exemption before the Trustee can receive one dollar. The Trustee is not allowed to work for free and must find money for the unsecured creditors also.
A different issue is whether what you have is a household good. In one case decided by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, a hunting rifle was found not be a household good because it was owned by someone who lived in the city. If the debtor had lived in the country and used the rifle to hunt game and maybe protect livestock the result may have been different.
You need to meet with someone who is familiar with what the Bankruptcy judges in South Carolina consider to be household goods or furnishings. An attorney such as myself has followed these cases and can advise you if there is a likelihood that you will lose something. For this reason, you should always tell your attorney about everything you own.
Meeting with me, Nathan Davis does not cost you anything. We can discuss this and other issues by calling my office and scheduling an appointment at 843-571-4042 or emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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