Located in the country’s Great Plains heartland, Kansas is a state rich in history. The land that eventually was to become Kansas was part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, but it took almost 60 years for Kansas to achieve statehood, just a few months before the outbreak of the Civil War.
Most people think of Kansas as farm country — and it is one of the most productive agricultural states in the country, known for its corn, wheat, soybeans, and sorghum. However, the largest industry in Kansas is finance, insurance, real estate, rental, and leasing, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
Kansas has been a little slower than the rest of the nation in recovering from the economic collapse. In 2016, Kansas’ current-dollar GDP was $153.3 billion and ranked 32nd in the United States. That year, the per capita personal income was $48,537, ranking 22nd in the United States and just behind the national average.
For those struggling financially in Kansas, bankruptcy may be an option. This post will take a deeper dive into the ins and outs of filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Kansas, what exemptions you may be able to claim to save your property, and where the bankruptcy courts are located.
Requirements Before Filing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Kansas
Bankruptcy is governed mainly by federal law, but state laws are also important. Most individuals file liquidation bankruptcies under Chapter 7 of Title 11 of the U.S. Code rather than Chapter 13 reorganization bankruptcies. Under the rules for Chapter 7 bankruptcies, a bankruptcy trustee can sell certain assets of the filer in order to help pay bills. The property the bankruptcy trustee can sell is considered non-exempt. However, some property is exempt, which means the trustee may not sell it.
We’ll go into those exemptions in just a minute. But first, Kansas requires you to get credit counseling within six months before you file for bankruptcy and to take a debtor education course before you receive your bankruptcy discharge. You must fulfill these requirements with approved agencies.
Kansas Bankruptcy Exemptions: What property can I keep?
Exemptions are listed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, but states can pass their own exemption laws. Since you are able to keep exempt property, it is important that you understand what is exempt before you file bankruptcy.
Property that is exempt is often only exempt up to a certain dollar value. These limits apply to your equity in the property rather than its total value. States have different rules regarding exemptions, and some states allow you to choose between federal exemptions and the state’s exemptions. This is not the case in Kansas.
If you file for bankruptcy in Kansas, you must use the Kansas list of bankruptcy exemptions. Keep in mind that married couples who file jointly can double the exemption amount for any property in which both spouses have an ownership interest.
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular Kansas exemptions to get a general sense of what property you’ll be able to keep. Remember, these numbers may periodically change, so it’s always best to consult with an experienced bankruptcy attorney before filing for bankruptcy.
Kansas Bankruptcy ExemptionsThe top 5 exemptions under Kansas state law.
|Type of exemption||Kansas law|
|Homestead||Unlimited value up to 1 acre in the city and 160 acres of farmland|
|Personal property||Any furnishings, equipment, and supplies currently owned and needed at the principal residence for up to one year; $7,500 in books, documents, and livestock/plant stock needed for work; jewelry up to $1,000|
|Vehicle||$20,000 if used for transportation to work|
|Wages||75% of disposable earnings or 30 times the federal minimum wage, whichever is higher|
|Pension/retirement||ERISA-qualified benefits and federal government pensions needed for support and paid within three months of filing bankruptcy|
Unlike many states, under Kan. Stat. Ann. §60-2301, Kansas gives you a homestead exemption of unlimited value. However, you can only protect up to one acre of land within city limits and 160 acres of farmland.
Example: You have a house in town on two acres. You can protect only one acre, and the trustee could sell excess land to pay debts.
Personal Property Exemptions
Kan. Stat. Ann. §60-2304 exempts certain articles of personal property. They include:
- Furnishings, equipment, and supplies in the person’s present possession and reasonably necessary at the principal residence for a period of one year;
- Jewelry and other personal ornaments not to exceed $1,000;
- A burial plot;
- The books, documents, furniture, equipment, breeding stock, and plant stock reasonably necessary in carrying on the person’s occupation in an aggregate value not to exceed $7,500.
Kan. Stat. Ann. §60-2304 exempts a motor vehicle not to exceed $20,000 in value that is used for transportation to work.
Example: If you bought a car worth $40,000 but owe the dealership $30,000, you have $10,000 equity in the car and can protect it under the Kansas exemption.
Under Kan. Stat. Ann. §60-2310, 75% of disposable earnings or 30 times the federal minimum wage (whichever is greater) is exempt.
Benefits and Pension/Retirement Exemptions
Kan. Stat. Ann. §60-2038(b) exempts ERISA-qualified benefits and federal government pensions needed for support and paid within three months of filing bankruptcy. Other statutes exempt the pensions of specific government employees.
Some states have a wildcard exemption that may be used where needed for any sort of property, in addition to other exemptions. Kansas does not.
Where are the Kansas bankruptcy courts located?
Filing for bankruptcy is a big step. If you are considering it, it would be wise to contact a Kansas bankruptcy attorney to discuss your options. If you contact an attorney soon enough, it’s possible they can help you to avoid bankruptcy.
Kansas only has one United States Bankruptcy Court district, but in many cases, it may not be necessary for you to even go to court. Your bankruptcy attorney will go over your case with you to determine what may be needed beyond the scope of filing your bankruptcy petition.
Here are the locations for Kansas’ bankruptcy courts:
Remember, it is best to consult with an attorney before filing for bankruptcy. You don’t want to file bankruptcy on your own (pro se) — and here’s why. Good luck, and here’s to getting your finances back on track!