California Bankruptcy Exemptions

For couples filing for bankruptcy protection, each person can claim a full set of exemptions unless otherwise noted. The State of California does not have federal exemptions available.

There are some limits on certain exemptions such as equity that you have in a home or in a vehicle. The difference between the cost of the item and the amount owed on the item is the definition of equity. If the item, such as home or vehicle, is secured by a loan and payments are made on time, the equity is protected by your exemptions. If you choose to keep the property, continual timely payments ensure that the property is protected through the bankruptcy.

There are certain possessions that can be exempt or protected from creditors when filing for bankruptcy in California. An experienced and knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney can assist in deciding which system (system 1 or system 2) applies to your case.

System 1


Assets

Homestead: Lived in California for at least 40 months – Real or personal property occupied, Including mobile home, stock cooperatives, boat, community apartment, condominium or planned development up to the following limits- $50,000 if single & not doubled, $75,000 for families with no homestead exemption, $150,000 for persons 65 or older; physically or mentally disabled; 55 or older, single and earn under $15,000; or married and earn under $20,000, Sale proceeds for up to 6 months after sale

Insurance: Matured life insurance benefits needed for support of unlimited value, Un-matured life insurance policy up to $10,775 in value, Union benefits in a labor dispute, Fraternal unemployment benefits, Health or disability benefits, Fidelity bonds, Fraternal benefit society benefits, homeowners’ insurance proceeds for 6 months after received up to homestead amount

Pensions: Tax-exempt retirement accounts- 401(k)s, 403(b)s, SEP and SIMPLE IRAs, Defined benefits plan, Profit sharing and money purchase plans, Traditional and Roth IRAs up to $1,095,000 per person, County employees, firefighters and police officers, Public employees, Public retirement benefits, Private retirement benefits, including IRAs & Keoghs.

Personal Property: Health aids, Funds held in escrow, Jewelry, heirlooms and art to $6,750 (may double for husband & wife), Personal injury or wrongful death causes of action, Personal injury or wrongful death recoveries needed for support (if installments, 75%), Building materials to repair or improve home up to $2,700 (may be doubled for husband and wife), Burial plot, Appliances, furnishings, clothing & food, Social Security Administration deposits up to $2,700 ($4,050 for husband & wife), Bank deposits of other public benefits to $1,350 ($2,025 for husband & wife)

Wages: 75% of wages paid within 30 days of filing, Public employees vacation credits, if installments-75%

Tools of Trade: (Husband and wife may double tools of trade if used in same occupation), Commercial vehicle to $4,850 or $9,700 if used by both spouses, Implements, tools, instruments, materials, books, furnishings, supplies, maps, machinery, electronics, uniforms and equipment $6,750 or $13,475 if used by both spouses.

Public Benefits: Unemployment compensation, Worker’s compensation, Aid to blind, disabled or aged, Public assistance, Financial assistance to students, Relocation benefits, Union benefits due to labor dispute, Crime victim’s compensation, Veterans’ benefits for veteran, spouse, or child if veteran served in wartime.

Miscellaneous: Business partnership property, Business or professional license, Inmates’ trust fund to $1,350 (husband and wife may double)

Wild Card: None

System 2


NOTE: Married Couples May Not Double Any Exemptions

Assets

Homestead: Real or personal property occupied, including co-op, up to $17,425, Including mobile home, stock cooperatives, boat, community apartment, condominium or planned development.

Insurance: Un-matured life insurance policy, Disability benefits, Life Insurance proceeds needed for support, Fidelity bonds Un-matured life insurance contract accrued interest, dividends, loans, cash or surrender value up to $9,300.

Pensions: ERISA-qualified benefits needed for support

Personal Property: Personal injury or wrongful death recoveries needed for support up to $17,425, Burial plot up to $17,425, instead of homestead, Health aids, Appliances, furnishings, animals, clothing, books, musical instruments and crops up to $450 per item, Wrongful death recoveries needed for support, Motor vehicles up to $2,775, Jewelry up to $1,150, $925 of any property 703.140(b)(5), $15,000 of any property, less any claim for homestead or burial plot 703.140(b)(5)

Tools of Trade: Implements, tools, instruments, materials, books, furnishings, supplies, maps, machinery, electronics, uniforms and equipment up to $1,750

Public Benefits: Unemployment compensation, Public assistance, Social Security, Veterans’ benefits, Crime victim’s assistance

Alimony and Child Support: Alimony and child support needed for support

Miscellaneous: Business or professional licenses, except liquor licenses.

Wild Card: None

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