Is retirement money safe in bankruptcy? 21 Answers as of October 14, 2013

I'm 51 years old and been saving towards retirement for over 30 years. I am about to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and want to know what will happen with my retirement money. I am afraid to lose it because its really all I have.

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Law Office of Thomas C. Phipps | Thomas C Phipps
If you can't get the money, the trustee cannot get it to pay creditors.
Answer Applies to: Missouri
Replied: 10/14/2013
Indianapolis Bankruptcy Law Office of Eric C. Lewis
Indianapolis Bankruptcy Law Office of Eric C. Lewis | Eric Lewis
It depends on the nature of the account. Is it in an IRA or 401k? Then yes.
Answer Applies to: Indiana
Replied: 9/16/2013
Portland Bankruptcy Law Group
Portland Bankruptcy Law Group | Christopher J. Kane
If you have money in a qualified retirement account, like an IRA or 401(k) account, that money is 100% protected from the claims of creditors.
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 9/11/2013
Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney
Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney | Janet Lawson
If it is a ERISA qualified account (401K, employer sponsored account) it is safe. But you should have a lawyer look at what the the account is first.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 9/10/2013
Goldsmith & Guymon
Goldsmith & Guymon | Marjorie Guymon
If your retirement account is a federally approved, tax deferred account, such as an IRA or 401k, it is exempt.
Answer Applies to: Nevada
Replied: 9/10/2013
    Law Offices of Joseph A. Mannis
    Law Offices of Joseph A. Mannis | Todd Mannis
    If it is in a proper retirement plan, you will be perfectly okay.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/10/2013
    Law Office of Jeffrey Solomon
    Law Office of Jeffrey Solomon | Jeffrey Solomon
    Retirement money" is generally exempt from creditors. You do need to clarify with a consultation with an attorney what you mean by "retirement money". Unless there is a fraudulent transfer issue, you can typically protect an IRA, 401k, and other retirement assets. Mere savings that you want to use in retirement would not be protected in bankruptcy.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 9/9/2013
    Rosenberg & Press
    Rosenberg & Press | Max L. Rosenberg
    Qualified retirement accounts are exempt assets in a bankruptcy. Make sure to check that it is not in a cash out annuity form or anything other than a basic 401 or IRA.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 9/9/2013
    A Fresh Start
    A Fresh Start | Dorothy G Bunce
    There won't be any problem protecting your retirement money as long as it is kept in a qualifying IRS approved account, such as a 401K or an IRS. However, if the money isn't kept in the right kind of account, it will be vulnerable, so retain an experienced bankruptcy attorney to review your account information.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 9/9/2013
    The Law Office of Darren Aronow, PC
    The Law Office of Darren Aronow, PC | Darren Aronow
    All qualified retirement accounts are safe but make sure with your attorney that those accounts are qualified.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 9/9/2013
    Deborah F Bowinski, Attorney & Counselor at Law | Debby Bowinski
    Assuming your retirement money is held in an IRS qualified retirement account such as a 401K or IRA account it is protected. To be sure, though, you really should consult with an attorney. With what is at stake it will be very worthwhile to pay a fee charged by an attorney in order to protect what you have.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 9/9/2013
    Armstrong Kellett Bartholow P.C.
    Armstrong Kellett Bartholow P.C. | Gary Armstrong
    It depends on whether or not the money is in a protected type of retirement account. Your attorney will be able to assist you in exempting the maximum amount.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 9/9/2013
    Sanford M. Martin, P.A. | Sanford M. Martin
    If the retirement savings are in a savings account, it will be considered available for the payment of debts, depending on your financial situation, nature of debts, and other property. You should evaluate whether bankruptcy is the correct decision based on your finances. Your question doesn't detail the important factors.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 9/9/2013
    The Smalley Law Firm, LLC | Cary Smalley
    Most retirement money is exempted from the bankruptcy estate, as long as it is in an approved account, such as an IRA or 401k.
    Answer Applies to: Kansas
    Replied: 9/9/2013
    Colorado Legal Solutions
    Colorado Legal Solutions | Stephen Harkess
    A qualified retirement account is protected from creditors and the bankruptcy trustee so long as the money remains in the account.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 9/9/2013
    Stuart P Gelberg
    Stuart P Gelberg | Stuart P Gelberg
    Most retirements accounts are "safe". They must be ERISA qualified. If you don't have a plan that was set up by someone other than a financial institution, you're safe
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 9/9/2013
    Maskell Law Firm, P.C.
    Maskell Law Firm, P.C. | Eric A. Maskell
    Generally if the retirement fund is an ERISA qualified tax exempt account it will be considered exempt property. However, depending on the exemption whether you use Texas or Federal there may be a limit on the amount that is considered exempt. You would need to discuss the matter with your bankruptcy attorney to determine exactly what is exempt prior to filing.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 9/9/2013
    Timothy Casey Theisen, P.A. | Tim Theisen
    As long as it's in an ERISA-qualified account, such as a pension or 401k or 403b, it is not part of your bankruptcy estate and is safe. IRA's are safe up to $1,000,000. Other retirement plans should be discussed with an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 9/9/2013
    Stittleburg Law Office
    Stittleburg Law Office | Bernd Stittleburg
    As long as the money is in a qualified ERISA account, it is protected. This would include IRAs, 401(k) accounts or any other similar type retirement accounts.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 9/9/2013
    Law Office of Michael Johnson
    Law Office of Michael Johnson | Michael Johnson
    if the funds are in a retirement account then they are protected. You should consult with an attorney to discuss your options.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 9/9/2013
    Law Office of Barry R. Levine | Barry R. Levine, Esq.
    Depends. ERISA qualified pension plans are not considered part of your estate. IRAs can be more problematic, but are generally exempt. Have you considered asking this question to your bankruptcy counsel? S/he should readily be able to answer this question.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 9/9/2013
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