Bankruptcy Exemptions

One of the big concerns of consumers who are considering bankruptcy is that they will lose all of their property. In fact, the “I can’t file for bankruptcy because I will lose everything I own” myth is one of the biggest misconceptions out there about the bankruptcy process. Rather than automatically losing all of your property, the bankruptcy court compares your assets against the applicable exemptions for your state to determine whether there is anything to distribute to creditors. The majority of people who file for personal bankruptcy are able to utilize exemption laws to retain all of their property through the process. Each state, as well as the federal system, have bankruptcy exemption laws which are designed to protect property. Some states, such as New York, only allow debtors to use their state exemption laws. Others, such as New Jersey, allow debtors to choose between either state or federal exemptions. Certain types of assets, such as IRAs and 401(k) accounts, are protected by federal law regardless of which exemption regime applies. Exemptions are rooted in public policy, with the idea being that it is unfair to allow consumers to shed unmanageable debt and be left with no property with which to start over. As a result, exemption laws designate certain types of property, up to specified dollar amounts, as exempt from the claims of creditors and the trustee. For example, Florida has an unlimited homestead exemption for long-term residents. This means that, in the event a Florida resident were to file for bankruptcy, their home would be exempt. They would not lose their primary residence regardless of its value. Similarly, the state of Illinois allows debtors to protect up to $2400 of equity in a car. This means that if you own a car worth $10,000 that has a loan of $8,000, you can file for bankruptcy in Illinois and keep your car. In this example, your $2000 of equity is under the maximum of $2400 allowed under the exemption statute. Even if the hypothetical changed so that there was $3,000 of equity in your automobile, you still would have the option to retain your car. Although bankruptcy trustees can liquidate property to access its nonexempt value, doing so requires a great deal of time and effort. In many cases, trustees are willing to enter into Cash Settlements with Debtors Rather Than Taking the Time To Sell Their Property. Exemption laws vary greatly by state, it is usually a good idea to meet with a local bankruptcy attorney to discuss how your property will be affected. Below, we organized a library of articles that touch on the subject of bankruptcy exemptions. We hope these articles will be a valuable resource as you weigh your options. Thank you for visiting the National Bankruptcy Forum.

Alabama Bankruptcy Exemptions

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Alabama: What You Need to Know

Aside from football, Alabama might best be known for its rich agricultural history, the birth of Booker T. Washington’s “Atlanta compromise” in the civil rights movement, and being a big employer for colleges and the military. The Heart of Dixie grew its economy after World War II to diversify its interests past farming, though per capita […]

Colorado Bankruptcy Exemptions Chapter 7

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Colorado: What You Need to Know

Last updated May 18, 2017. Colorado is a gorgeous state. If you’re the outdoorsy type, you’ll feel right at home here among the Rocky Mountains, the desert, and river canyons. If you love a robust downtown, you’ve got Denver, which has consistently ranked as one of the top places to live in America. However, while Colorado […]

Alaska Bankruptcy Exemptions

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Alaska: What You Need to Know

Last updated May 18, 2017. While the United States has mostly come out of the Great Recession, Alaska is still experiencing its own due to a steep drop in oil prices and resulting budget crisis in 2015. According to a recent economic confidence survey, Anchorage residents are feeling more pessimistic about the local economy today than they […]

Livestock Bankruptcy Chapter 12 Farmers

Can I Keep Livestock and File Bankruptcy?

People who are considering bankruptcy often wonder whether they will be able to keep their property, and farmers are no exception. People who keep livestock and grow crops for a living are often worried that by filing for bankruptcy, they will end up putting themselves in a position where they will be forced to part […]

New York City Bankruptcy State Exemptions Chapter 7

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in New York: What You Need to Know

Last updated March 29, 2017. If you are considering filing for protection under the federal bankruptcy laws, the first thing that should be done is to engage the services of a knowledgeable attorney. This post is a description of things you might want to know about bankruptcy in New York City, as well as the […]

Tax Refund in Bankruptcy

Tax Refund and Bankruptcy? Here’s How to Keep Your Money

Last updated March 28, 2017. It comes up every tax season. You’re looking forward to receiving a big tax refund check, and you’re also working hard to get your bankruptcy case filed. So, what happens to your tax refund in a bankruptcy case? We’ve said it time and again on the forum: Tax refunds are […]

Are You Judgment Proof?

We all know why people are filing for bankruptcy. With a tepid recovery, jobs are hard to find, home values are still low, and fear and uncertainty are preventing business owners from expanding their businesses. The costs of health care are rising even with the Affordable Care Act in play. People are finding themselves saddled […]

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Exemptions: What Can I Keep if I File Bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy Filers Aren’t Meant To Be Left With Nothing Many people mistakenly believe that they will lose everything when they file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. This is not the case. The bankruptcy code allows debtors to claim certain necessary property as off-limits from creditors and the trustee. That property is the debtor’s ‘exempt property.’ The […]

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Credit Card Lawsuit Defenses: What To Do When You’ve Been Sued

What do you do when your credit card company sues you? You’ve received notice that your credit card company is suing you. What do you do now? The first step is to read the complaint carefully. Your creditor will most likely sue because you haven’t paid but can also sue you for defaulting on any term […]