Table of Contents
  1. Maryland Bankruptcy Exemptions: What property can I keep?

One of the original 13 colonies, Maryland is a mid-Atlantic state blessed with a wide variety of landscapes that has earned it the nickname “America in Miniature.” Sand dunes, marshlands, gentle hills, pine groves, and waterways decorate this small state. Perhaps Maryland is best known for the Chesapeake Bay and delicious seafood, but it is also home to the National Aquarium and Maryland Science Center.

Maryland is a wealthy state with a diverse economy. In 2016, its per capita personal income (PCPI) was $57,936, sixth in the United States and 117% of the national average of $49,571. The PCPI increased 3% from 2015 to 2016, compared to the national change of 2.9%. Maryland’s current-dollar GDP for 2016 was $378.3 billion, the 15th highest in the United States. In 2016, Maryland real GDP increased 1.3% compared to the national change of 1.5%. The largest industry in Maryland is finance, insurance, real estate, rental, and leasing, followed by government.

Maryland does not have a high rate of bankruptcies, but of course people file bankruptcy here as in every state of the Union. Let’s look at some specifics of filing for bankruptcy in Maryland.

Maryland Bankruptcy Exemptions: What property can I keep?

It is vitally important that you understand what you can exempt; your Maryland bankruptcy attorney can guide you through this. Many exemptions provide a dollar limit. That is, you can take an exemption but only up to the amount of a certain dollar figure that you have in equity in the property.

Following are some common Maryland exemptions. Your attorney can discuss a complete list and the details for each exemption. In general, married couples filing a joint bankruptcy are each entitled to their own exemptions, which has the effect of doubling exemptions on a piece of property. But there are exceptions.

Maryland Bankruptcy Exemptions

The top 5 exemptions under Maryland state law.
Type of exemptionMaryland law
Personal property$5,000 in tools of trade; $1,000 in clothing and household goods; health aids; burial plot
VehicleNone, but you may use a $6,000 wildcard exemption
WagesVary by county
Pension/retirementGenerally exempt


You can take up to a $23,675 exemption in your residence, whether a house, a condominium, or a trailer under Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 11-504(f)(1)(i)(2) and Real Prop § 8-203(d)(3)(ii)). Note that married couples may not double the Maryland homestead exemption.

Example: If you bought a house for $200,000 but you only have $23,675 or less in equity, your house is safe from the bankruptcy trustee. If you have over $23,675 equity in the house, the bankruptcy trustee may sell it. As a practical matter, your equity must be enough over $23,675 to make the sale worthwhile.

Personal Property

You can exempt a number of items of personal property. These include but are not limited to:

  • Wearing apparel, books, tools, instruments, or appliances up to a value of $5,000 in value necessary for the practice of your trade or profession. Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 11-504(b)(1))
  • Professionally prescribed health aids. Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 11-504(b)(3)
  • Household furnishings and goods, clothing, pets, books, and other items for personal or family use up to $1,000. Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 11-504(b)(4)
  • Burial plot. Bus. Reg. § 5-503

Motor Vehicle

There is no motor vehicle exemption in Maryland, but you could use your wildcard exemption for up to $6,000 to save your car from the bankruptcy trustee.


Earned but unpaid wages have exemptions that vary according to county. In Caroline, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Worcester counties, the exemption is the greater of 75% of actual wages or 30 times the federal minimum wage. For other counties, the exemption is the greater of 75% or $145 per week. There are medical deductions that impact these figures. Com. Law §15-601.1

Insurance, Benefit, Support and Court Awards

  • Court-ordered child support payments. Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 11-504(b)(60)
  • Alimony in an amount equal to your earnings exemption. Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 11-504(b)(7) and Com. Law § 15-601.1
  • Public assistance benefits. Human Serv. § 5-407(a)(1), (2)
  • Disability or health benefits, including court awards, arbitration awards, and settlements. Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 11-504(b)(2)
  • Fraternal benefit society benefits. Ins. § 8-431, Est. & Trusts § 8-115
  • Life insurance or annuity contract proceeds when the beneficiary is the insured’s dependent, child, or spouse. Ins. § 816-111(a)
  • Settlements or awards that you receive for injury or illness or wrongful death; awards for lost future earnings. Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 11-504(b)(2)

Benefits and Pension/Retirement

Retirement plans are generally exempt as named in Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 11–504(h).


Maryland provides a wildcard exemption of $6,000 that may be used for any cash or property. However, it must be claimed within 30 days of attachment or levy. Cts. & Jud. Proc. 11-504(b)(5).

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