Great news: Due to a ruling on May 11, 2012, by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, Chapter 7 now offers greater flexibility and control than ever before to Georgia homeowners and property owners with depreciated home values.

Prior to May, in Chapter 13 cases, homeowners as well as clients with rental property whose properties were "underwater" (the value of the property is less than the amount owed on the 1st mortgage) have been permitted to "strip off" the lien on the wholly unsecured 2nd or 3rd mortgage and treat the balance owed as an unsecured debt (think medical or credit card debt) to be paid through the plan.

As a result, the client needed only to continue making the monthly payment on the first mortgage direct to the lender outside the plan; the unsecured 2nd or 3rd mortgage would receive only a portion of any money allocated to unsecured creditors until the plan was completed. Upon completion of the plan, both the lien and the debt on the 2nd or 3rd mortgage were "extinguished"; only the 1st mortgage remained.

Now, in Chapter 7 cases, Georgia homeowners and rental property owners with 2nd or 3rd mortgages similarly underwater have a new tool in their Chapter 7 toolbox to deal with junior mortgages. Now, it is possible to lien strip junior mortgages and exit Chapter 7 owing only the long-term debt on the 1st mortgage on your home or rental property.

Bottom Line: The relief available under Chapter 7 for Georgians is more flexible and bigger and better than ever. Let one of our attorneys assist you in better understanding the Chapter 7 process.

Posted in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

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