Massachusetts Bankruptcy Exemptions

Unlike most states, Massachusetts does have federal exemptions available in bankruptcy cases.

All property of the debtor at the time of the filing for bankruptcy (and certain other property to be received in the future) becomes the property of the bankruptcy estate once the debtor files for bankruptcy. This means that the bankruptcy trustee will take control of this property for purposes of satisfying the creditors. However, there is certain property either excluded or exempt from the bankruptcy estate that the debtor will be able to keep. Property or asset exemptions are determined based upon your specific situation, personal income and the individual laws of your state.

Unless otherwise noted, husband and wives may double most exemptions.


Homestead: Property (land and building) you occupy or intend to occupy (including mobile home) to $100,000; if over 65 or disabled, $200,000 (joint owners may not double), Spouse or children of deceased owner may claim homestead exemption, If statement of homestead is not in title to property, must record homestead declaration before filing bankruptcy, Tenancies by the entity, regardless of value, are exempt as to the debts of one spouse, unless the debt was “incurred on account of necessaries” for either spouse or family member.

Personal Property: Moving expenses for eminent domain (if government seized property), Bank, credit union or trust company deposits up to $500 total, Motor vehicle up to $700, Furniture up to $3,000, Clothing needed, beds and bedding and heating unit, Bible and books up to $200 total, Cash for rent up to $200 per month, in lieu of homestead, Cash for fuel, electricity, water and heat up to $75 per month, Bank deposits to $125, Sewing machine to $200, Burial plots, church pews and tombs, Cash for food or food up to $300, Cooperative association shares to $100, 2 cows, 2 swine, 12 sheep and 4 tons of hay

Wages: Earned but unpaid wages up to $125 per week

Insurance: Fraternal benefit society benefits, Disability benefits to $400 per week, Group annuity policy or proceeds, Group life insurance policy, Life or endowment policy, proceeds or cash value, Medical malpractice self-insurance, Life insurance policy if beneficiary is married woman, Life insurance or annuity contract proceeds if clause prohibits proceeds from being used to pay beneficiary’s creditors

Miscellaneous: Property of business partnership

Pensions: Tax-exempt retirement accounts, including 401(k)s, 403(b)s, profit sharing and money purchase plans, SEP and SIMPLE IRAs and defined purchase plans. Traditional and ROTH IRAs to $1,000,000 per person, Credit union employees, ERISA-qualified benefits, including IRAs and Keoghs to specified limits, Private retirement benefits, Public employees, Savings bank employees

Public Benefits: Veterans’ benefits, AFDC to blind, aged or disabled, Workers’ compensation, Public assistance, Unemployment compensation

Tools of Trade: Boats, nets and fishing tackle of fisherman up to $500, Tools, implements and fixtures up to $500, Materials that you designed and procured up to $500, Arms, uniforms and accoutrements you are required to keep

Wildcard: None

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