What Types of Property Can I Keep In Chapter 7?

Many clients think they will lose their household furnishings, cars, houses, or other belongings if they file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. In over 90 percent of the cases filed, no property is turned over to the trustee, and the client keeps it all. These are called “no-asset cases” because all of the client’s property is protected by exemptions. So, what are the exemptions available in Western North Carolina?


(Remember, these are the amounts of EQUITY you can protect. Equity is the value of the property minus the amount of any loans against that property. For example, if you have a car worth $10,000 with a loan for $7,000, you have $3,000 in equity)


Here is a summary:

  • Up to $35,000 of real or personal property used as a residence ($70,000 for married couple filing together)

  • 60 days’ earnings if needed for family support

  • One motor vehicle worth up to $3,500 (2 vehicles up to $7,000 for married couples filing together)

  • Up to $5,000 worth of any property, minus amount claimed under homestead exemption ($10,000 for married couples filing together)

  • Up to $5,000 plus $1,000 of property for each of your dependents up to $4,000 worth of household furnishings, household goods, clothing, appliances, books, animals, crops or musical instruments ($10,000 for married couples filing together)

  • Up to $2,000 worth of implements, professional books and trade tools