What property can I keep in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing?

Get Legal Help Today

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

Full Bio →

Written by

UPDATED: Jul 15, 2021

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.

We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about legal topics and insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything legal and insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by experts.

Typical examples of property that you can keep are:

  • Your residence, up to $25,150.
  • A car, up to $4,000.
  • Household goods and furnishings, clothing, appliances, books, pets or musical instruments up to $13,400, but no more than $625 per item.
  • Tools of your trade, up to $2,525.
  • The cash value of a life insurance policy, up to $13,400.
  • Health aids.
  • Your right to receive social security, unemployment, welfare, veteran’s benefits, disability, illness, alimony, support, crime victim’s reparations.
  • To the extent necessary for your support, your right to receive life insurance for someone who was supporting you or to recover damages for such a person’s wrongful death.
  • Your right to recover damages, other than for pain and suffering, for personal injury, up to $25,150.

Exemptions vary widely from one state to another, so you must check with an attorney who specializes in bankruptcy in your area. Web sites that attempt to list exemptions for every state can give you an approximate idea of the exemption picture, but they’re bound to be incomplete and out of date in many respects.

The above categories and dollar limits are the ones provided by federal law in states that allow you to choose between the federal exemptions and exemptions available under state law. About 34 states don’t let you choose. The dollar amounts of the federal exemptions are automatically adjusted upwards every three years; these are the figures effective for cases filed on or after April 1, 2019.

If a married couple files a joint petition (the filing of a single petition by an individual and the individual’s spouse), each spouse is entitled to his or her own exemptions. In most cases, that fact means that the amounts are doubled.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption