Exemption Limits

While Bankruptcy law is Federal, many exemptions are determined by state law. As of the writing of this web page, a brief survey of the information available on the internet revealed that virtually all sources reported exemptions incorrectly. Frequently, they were simply not up to date – some for many years. Be very careful where you get information on exemption limits.

Exemptions are treated differently depending on which Chapter of Bankruptcy you are filing. In a Chapter 7, they establish a dollar limit for certain categories of property that you are allowed to keep through your bankruptcy. Equity or value, over the exemption limit, can be bought from the bankruptcy estate or could lead to property seizure. If you know your exemption laws, then you can know what is going to happen before you file and plan accordingly – no surprises!

Determining the categorization of property and which exemptions to apply is a task best left to experienced attorneys familiar with the exemption levels set by the laws of your state.

To give you an idea of what to expect, here are the exemptions in Texas:

Individual Filer Joint Filing
Wearing Apparel 1,500 unlimited Same
Jewelry & Watches 2,000 $3,750
personal property total(25% of aggregate)
Personal Books & Family Pictures 1,500 $3,750
personal property total
Household Goods 3,000 30,000 Same
Tools of a Trade 20,000 Unlimited Same
Motor Vehicles or Bicycles 5,000 One per
licensed member of the household
10,000 Same
Professional Library 3,000 Unlimited Same
LIFE Insurance – Cash Surrender Value 50,000 Unlimited Same
Personal Injury Awards 100.00% Same
Pension & Retirement 100.00% Same
IRAs 100.00% Same
Child Support Payments in Custodial Account 100.00% Same
Disposable Earning75%    
Equity in Home 60000.00% Same
Equity in Home for Elderly or Disabled 90000.00% Same
Equity in Home sold within last 2 years 60000.00% Same


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