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.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Maine

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Maine: What You Need to Know

Maine has some specific rules that govern bankruptcy, but before we get into that, let’s take a look at the state that lies the farthest north in New England. Maine is a state of dense forests, low mountains, beautiful waterways, and a rocky coast that is studded with lighthouses. Its charms include beaches, the heavily […]

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Louisiana

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Louisiana: What You Need to Know

Before we discuss exemptions in bankruptcies filed in Louisiana, let’s take a look at this fascinating state. The Gulf of Mexico, the Mississippi River and Louisiana’s extensive bayous frame the backdrop to Louisiana’s unique melting pot that include Cajun and Creole cultures. We owe a debt to New Orleans for giving birth to jazz, and, […]

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Kentucky

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Kentucky: What You Need to Know

Last updated Sept. 15, 2017. Just south of the Mason-Dixon line, Kentucky is famous for the venerable Kentucky Derby thoroughbred horse race, which began in 1875. Far more than a horse race, the Kentucky Derby is a see and be-seen social event that is always held at Churchill Downs in Louisville the first Saturday in […]

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Iowa

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Iowa: What You Need to Know

Known most across the nation for the Iowa caucuses that launch the presidential nominating process every four years, the world-renowned Iowa State Fair, and being the future birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk, Iowa’s robust economy often comes as a surprise to people. Unsurprisingly, Iowa is number one in the nation in producing eggs, corn, […]

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Indiana

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Indiana: What You Need to Know

If you don’t live in or near Indiana, you may only have a vague picture of a state with miles of farmland that hosts the annual Indianapolis 500 auto race. In fact, Indiana is filled with attractions and boasts diverse industries. A discussion of Indiana’s charms would not be complete without a mention of Brown […]

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Hawaii

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Hawaii: What You Need to Know

Hawaii is famous for being a tropical paradise. The only state in the United States made up entirely of islands, Hawaii is home to lush green rainforests, scenic beaches, and active volcanoes that attract tourists from the continental U.S. and around the world. However, not all is as sunny in the Aloha State as its […]

Georgia Bankruptcy Exemptions Chapter 7

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Georgia: What You Need to Know

Georgia, the largest state east of the Mississippi river, is famous as the nation’s foremost producer of peaches, pecans and peanuts. It was one of our original colonies, and back in 1776 its population was 40,000 —compared to today’s population of 10,310,371, making it the eighth-most populous state in the nation. The Atlanta metropolitan area is the ninth-largest […]

Delaware Bankruptcy Exemptions Chapter 7

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Delaware: What You Need to Know

Delaware calls itself the First State because it ratified the U.S. Constitution before any other state, in early December 1787. In the last century, it has also become first in the minds of many entrepreneurs when deciding where to incorporate their businesses. Today, Delaware is home to more corporations, limited liability companies, and business partnerships […]