What are bankruptcy asset exemptions? 14 Answers as of January 23, 2014

My mother is asking: When filing for bankruptcy will I have to pay to keep my assets? For instance, if asked if I own a camera, computer, TV, car that's paid for, etc. Will I have to pay some additional money to retain those items or am I required to sell them to help pay my debt? I live in Minnesota and am considering filing Chapter 7. Also, how do I determine my household size? Do they have to be considered my dependents in order to do so? Thanks.

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GARCIA & GONZALES, P.C. | Richard N. Gonzales
What every exemptions you can claim for tax purposes (IRS purposes) is what is considered your household size. You can Google "Minnesota State Exemptions", and you should come up with a list of items you are allowed to keep when filing your Chapter 7 case. If the item is NOT exempt, and you still want to keep it, the Trustee will ask you to make an offer to keep it. For example, if the State exemption for a vehicle is $5,000, but the vehicle is free and clear and worth $10,000, you are over on this exemption by $5,000. Since the Trustee has expenses associated with taking possession of the vehicle, storing the vehicle, and paying fees to sell the vehicle, the Trustee will entertain an offer for less than $5,000 so you can keep the vehicle (maybe $1,500 in payments of $250 per month, as an example). An experienced attorney will guide you through this process.
Answer Applies to: Colorado
Replied: 1/23/2014
The Law Office of M Grater LLC
The Law Office of M Grater LLC | Mark O. Grater
Bankruptcy exemptions allow you to keep most personal property up to the amount of the exemption. The amount of the exemption depends on whether you are using the Federal or State exemption system. You will usually choose the system that works best for you. In very general terms, to the extent your household is a family unit, that would be your household size.
Answer Applies to: Connecticut
Replied: 1/22/2014
Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney
Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney | Janet Lawson
Every state has a different exemption scheme. I am not licensed in Minnesota so I can not answer any specific questions. Generally one does not have to buy back their possessions. If you have assets that exceed the allowed exemptions, then one has to file a ch13 to pay back the amount of the excess. You should consult with a local attorney.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 1/22/2014
Law Office of Lynnmarie A. Johnson
Law Office of Lynnmarie A. Johnson | Lynnmarie Johnson
There are many websites ran by the US bankruptcy trustee that tells you how much you can keep under the different exemptions. Well over 95% of Ch 7 bankruptcies, which mean the trustee and creditors get nothing. Household size method can vary, some courts use the "heads on the bed" (if they sleep there, you count them), some use the tax return method, you have to be able to claim them on your tax return. This is really serious and complex, I urge you to hire an attorney to do this for you, most attorney will work out a payment plan, and since the penalties for getting it wrong range from dismissal to money and or imprisonment!
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 1/21/2014
The Law Offices of Andrew D. Myers
The Law Offices of Andrew D. Myers | Andrew Myers
Actually the answer to your mother's question is just the opposite: although exemptions vary from state to state, the idea is to protect assets from liquidation.
Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
Replied: 1/21/2014
    Scott Goldstein | Scott Goldstein
    You have a lot of questions. Best to actually retain an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 1/21/2014
    Stuart P Gelberg
    Stuart P Gelberg | Stuart P Gelberg
    This is a NYS website. Consult a local atty. Many offer free consults.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 1/21/2014
    Patrick W. Currin, Attorney at Law | Patrick Currin
    To answer your last question first, yes, dependents determine household size. You have a set of exemptions in each state (2 in CA) so you would have to google Minnesota bankruptcy exemptions to see what they are. If you were in California and don't have real estates assets, you are looking at around $25,000 of exemptions, plus IRAs and the like.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/21/2014
    Hoang & Tran PLLC | Adam Tran
    Bankruptcy exemptions are items that can be excluded (i.e. you do not need to give to the bankruptcy trustee) from liquidation under Chapter 7.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 1/21/2014
    Tokarska Law Center
    Tokarska Law Center | Kathryn U. Tokarska
    I'm wondering why your questions are being posted under CALIFORNIA Bankruptcy section. Generally speaking, whether you can keep as asset depends on the exemptions in your particular state. Each state has their own. Household size is determined by taking yourself and adding dependents. If you are taking care of a member of the family who is either elderly or ill and cannot take care of their own basic needs you might be able to subtract the contributions you make toward that person's reasonable and necessary living expenses. Your questions however should really be reposted in MINNESOTA as there may be some jurisdictional differences in how issues are handled.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/21/2014
    The Law Office of Darren Aronow, PC
    The Law Office of Darren Aronow, PC | Darren Aronow
    Every jurisdiction is a bit different so you should speak to an attorney in your jurisdiction.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 1/20/2014
    David Kass | David Kass
    Exemptions for bk purposes are assets that a debtor can keep after declaring bk and creditors cannot attach. For example NY State grants a homestead exemption of 150k. If your home is worth more than that you must pay in the overage so that creditors can use it to satisfy debts owed to them.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 1/17/2014
    Deborah F Bowinski, Attorney & Counselor at Law | Debby Bowinski
    The questions you are asking are good ones, and they should be indicators to you that filing a bankruptcy case is not a simple proposition. The exemptions available in bankruptcy vary significantly from state to state. The analysis of household size also can vary it will depend upon who lives in the home and how the household finances work, among other considerations. For most bankruptcy related questions there are not easy, quick answers without knowing quite a bit of information about the situation and circumstances. Do yourself a favor and seek an experienced lawyer to guide you through the process.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 1/17/2014
    Thomas Vogele & Associates, APC | Thomas A. Vogele
    If you live in Minnesota you cannot file for bankruptcy in California, however, in all states you have a right to exempt certain property by identifying it and listing it in your petition. The rules vary by state, but exemptions allow you to keep certain property such as furniture, tools, some equity in a car, burial plot, etc. that you will need to start over after bankruptcy. Bankruptcy is "designed to give the honest debtor a fresh start" and if you're left with nothing it's pretty hard to start over. Check with a bankruptcy lawyer where you live and they can tell you the exemptions rules in your jurisdiction. Household size is determined by the number of people living with you for whom you provide support.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/17/2014
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