Bankruptcy Exemptions: What property can I keep?

Most of the time, all of it.  As an Asheville bankruptcy attorney, I speak with people daily about how it is possible to become debt free and achieve a financial “fresh start” through our country’s bankruptcy system.  An important concept in bankruptcy is that people should be allowed to keep certain property they own which is necessary in daily living.

Protect Property Using Bankruptcy Exemptions

Protect Property Using Bankruptcy Exemptions

The bankruptcy code calls the protected property, “exempt property.”  In over 90% of bankruptcy cases, those filing keep ALL of their property while discharging their debts.

If you have lived in North Carolina for 2 years or more, you are entitled to use the North Carolina exemptions.  This scheme allows for, among other exemptions, the following:

Homestead Equity ($35k per spouse, $70k for married couple)

Wildcard Exemption ($5k per spouse, $10k for married couple, if full homestead not used)

Household Goods ($5k per spouse, $10k for married couple)

Automobile Exemption ($3.5k per spouse, $7k for married couple)

Retirement Accounts (fully exempt up to $1,000,000)

Business equipment or inventory ($2k per spouse, $4k for household).

All of these amounts are based on the liquidation value, not the retail value.  It would be exceptionally rare, for instance, for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee to be able to liquidate personal property such as furniture, TVs, or other personal property because they are not worth much outside of the retail setting.  Think about what you could sell the property for on eBay or craigslist or at a garage sale in order to properly value property for liquidation purposes.

If you have not lived in North Carolina for more than 2 years, but live here now, you are likely entitled to protect property using the Federal Bankruptcy Exemptions.

If you have questions regarding bankruptcy exemptions, or your rights under the bankruptcy code, do not hesitate to contact me for a free, initial, bankruptcy consultation.