The primary federal bankruptcy exemptions are listed below. Keep in mind, the amounts periodically change. Deciding what exemptions you are entitled to use and which are best for you is an important and complex decision your bankruptcy attorney will review with you. If you don’t have a lot of equity in your home, your attorney may recommend federal exemptions. The federal exemptions may have the advantage of a “wildcard” exemption. This is an exemption that you may be able to use to protect any property that is not already protected under some other exemption. For example, a tax refund, cash or stock, an extra car, or equity in rental property.

The dollar limits on the federal exemptions change periodically. You can usually double the dollar limit on exemptions when both husband and wife file together. There may be restrictions that limit the use of these exemptions depending on the facts of the case.

Some of the Federal Exemptions Include

  1. Homestead – up to $22,975 in equity (double for a joint filing) can be used to exempt the debtor’s homestead. Where the debtor owns no homestead, he can usually use up to $11,500 plus an additional $1,225 (double for a joint filing) to exempt any real or personal property.
  2. Household Goods – $575 per single item for a total of up to $12,250 (double for a joint filing).
  3. Certain retirement funds and benefits.
  4. Certain life insurance policies.
  5. Right to receive disability, illness, or unemployment benefits; unemployment, public assistance, and veterans benefits.
  6. Alimony and child support needed for support.
  7. Motor vehicle up to $3,675.
  8. Personal injury recoveries to $22,975 (not to include pain and suffering or pecuniary loss). Wrongful death recoveries for the death of a person the debtor depended on for support.
  9. Crime victims’ compensation.
  10. Implements, books, and tools of trade to $2,300.
  11. Wild Card – $1,225 of any property plus up to $11,500 of unused portion of a homestead for any property.