State Bankruptcy Exemptions

Bankruptcy exemptions often play a major role whether you are filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. The amount of property you can exempt from your bankruptcy depends upon the state in which you are filing, since each state has its own bankruptcy exemptions. This set is called domicile requirements. Federal law also has its own set of exemptions. Some states require you to use the state exemptions, while other states offer you the option of choosing either its set of exemptions or the federal system; however, you cannot mix and match state and federal exemptions.

To date, if you live in one of the following states, you can opt to use the federal bankruptcy exemptions.  If not, then you must use your state’s bankruptcy exemptions. These states include Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.

Following are some of the current federal exemption amounts.  These amounts are adjusted every three years in April, with the latest adjustment occurring in 2013.  If there is no dollar amount stated, you are entitled to exempt the entire asset regardless of value.  If you are a married couple filing jointly, you can double these exemption amounts.

·         Federal Homestead Exemption – The homestead exemption is designed to protect the equity in your main place of residence.  However, you may not use the homestead exemption on any investment or rental properties.  You can currently protect $22,975 of equity in your home under the federal exemptions.

·         Personal Property Exemptions – Personal property includes all property you have other than real estate. The following are some of the most important federal personal property exemptions:

    • $3,675 for your motor vehicle
    • $1,550 for jewelry
    • $12,250 aggregate value ($575 per individual item) on household goods, furnishings and appliances, clothes, books, animals, crops and/or musical instruments
    • $2,300 for tools of trade including implements and books
    • Health aids
    • Life insurance policies that have not matured except credit life insurance, and
    • $12,250 in loan value of life insurance policy.

·         Exemptions Relating to Support or Benefits

    • Domestic maintenance such as alimony or child support reasonably necessary for your support
    • Life insurance payments that you need for support under policy of someone of whom you were a dependent
    • Social security, unemployment benefits and compensation, veteran’s benefits, public assistance and disability or illness benefits

·         Exemptions on Recovery Received Due to Injury

    • $22,975 for personal injury except pain and suffering or pecuniary loss
    • award for loss of future earnings needed for support
    • recovery for wrongful death of person you were a dependent of needed for support, and
    • compensation received for being a crime victim

·         Wildcard Exemption – You can apply the federal wildcard exemption to any property you own.  To date, you are allowed $1,225 plus $11,500 of any unused portion of your homestead exemption to exempt any type of property

·         Retirement Account Exemptions – Retirement accounts that are exempt from taxation, which usually include most genuine non-fraudulent retirement accounts, are fully exempt. However there is a cap of $1,245,475 on both IRAs and Roth IRAs.

Before you file for Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you need to speak with a bankruptcy lawyer who has extensive experience and knowledge to fight for your rights. Call us today to speak with a knowledgeable bankruptcy representative from Client First Bankruptcy toll-free at 800-383-6004.