Texas Bankruptcy Exemption Laws

Texas Bankruptcy

Texas Bankruptcy Exemption Laws

TX Bankruptcy InformationTexas Bankruptcy Exemption Laws

(Portions reprinted by permission from How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, Nolo © 1989-2018 )


Texas Exemptions Summary

(details below...)

Federal Exemptions Also Available
(see below)

Homestead

Unlimited; property cannot exceed 10 acres in town, village, city or 100 acres (200 for families) elsewhere; sale proceeds exempt for 6 months after sale (renting okay if another home not acquired, Prop. 41.003)
Must file homestead declaration, or court will file it for you and charge you for doing so  (more...)

Auto/Truck (aka Motor Vehicle)

1 two-, three- or four-wheeled motor vehicle per family member or per single adult who holds a driver's license; or, if not licensed, who relies on someone else to operate vehicle   (more...)

Personal Property

Clothing & food
Home furnishings including family heirlooms
Jewelry (limited to 25% of total exemption)
Pets & domestic animals plus their food: 2 horses, mules, or donkeys & tack; 12 head of cattle; 60 head of other livestock; 120 fowl
Health aids (exempt from total)
Tools, equipment (includes boat & motor vehicles used in trade), & books    (more...)

Wild Card

None   (more...)

Wage Garnishment Law

Unpaid commissions not to exceed 25% of total personal property exemptions   (more...)

More Texas Exemptions...

[Click here for more info & citations...]

Dislcaimer

Disclaimer

Citations and links to primary law and secondary sources are provided for those who wish to do further research. Every effort has been made to make this information up to date and accurate, but laws can and do change without notice. Persons relying on this information are responsible for confirming its timeliness and accuracy before relying on it. (This information was updated in December 2014.)

Also bear in mind that these brief summaries do not list every detail or exception to these exemptions. For example, there are often exceptions for collection of child support debt and/or taxes. These listings are designed to inform you of laws that exist for your benefit, so that you may exercise what rights you may have.

Finally, this website is intended to provide information only. It cannot answer whether your property does or does not qualify for a specific exemption.

ADVERTISEMENT - LegalConsumer.com does not endorse or review advertised services.

Talk to a Local Bankruptcy Attorney

Enter Your Zip Code or Call (855) 410-1378 to Connect with a Lawyer In Your Area

ADVERTISEMENTS - LegalConsumer.com does not endorse or review advertised products or services.

ADVERTISEMENTS - LegalConsumer.com does not endorse or review advertised products or services.

ADVERTISEMENT - LegalConsumer.com does not endorse or review advertised services.

Talk to a Local Bankruptcy Attorney

Enter Your Zip Code or Call (855) 410-1378 to Connect with a Lawyer In Your Area

^ Top
Texas Homestead | Insurance | Retirement | Personal Property | Public Benefits | Tools of Trade | Wage Garnishment | Wild Card |

Texas Exemptions

Federal vs. State Exemption Statutes and How to Read Them

Some states offer you a choice of their State law exemptions or the Federal bankruptcy exemptions.

Other states require you to use their state exemptions.

Some states have special exemptions that apply specifically to bankruptcy, while others apply exemption laws that affect any kind of court-ordered collection activity.

As such, the wording of these statutes commonly speak in terms used in court-ordered procedures such wages not being subject to or "garnishment" or of property or pension funds not being subject to "attachment" ...they're not talking sentimental attachment... they mean liens -- that are "attached" to property -- and sometimes can be "stripped" away or "avoided" (i.e. eliminated) in bankruptcy.

Also, unlike what you see on this web page, most states don't list their exemptions in a neat little table.

What appears on this page is a rather simplified summary of exemption laws to let you know what laws are out there and where to find them.

Users should check the actual citations for specific limitations or qualifications or updates of these exemptions.

One more thing... Some states change the exemption amounts by adminstrative order, so the numbers in the statute are old, and don't match current amounts, which you'll see here.

In states where that is the case, I make a note of that.

A few courts offer a simplified list of current exemptions and their amounts, but most don't. Wouldn't hurt to ask the clerk.

 

Texas Offers a Choice of Federal or State Exemptions

Texas law allows you to use the exemptions found in the U.S. bankruptcy code (11 U.S.C. § 522(d)) or the exemptions provided under Texas law. However, you cannot mix and match exemptions from the federal bankruptcy code and state law. You must choose one system or the other.

However, if you use the state law exemptions, there are a few U.S. 'non-bankruptcy' exemptions (that is, exemptions that exist outside of federal bankruptcy code) that you can use in addition to your state law exemptions. The four most significant non-bankruptcy exemptions are for:

  • Wages (a general cap on what percentage of your wages can be garnished)
  • Social Security benefits
  • Civil Service benefits, and
  • Veterans Benefits

Other non-bankruptcy exemptions mostly deal with various benefits to government and military personnel, with a few odd laws regarding specially regulated labor markets such as railroad workers, merchant sailors, and longshoremen.

NOTE: Federal Exemption amounts listed below reflect the April 1, 2016 adjustment for inflation every three years, and therefore do not match the figures shown in the federal exemption statutes. Click here for the April 1, 2016 inflation adjustments to Federal bankruptcy exemption amounts, published in the Federal Register.

Can you double exemptions for joint filers? (General principles)

If you are married and filing together, you and your spouse must use the same law; one cannot use federal law while the other uses state law. However, the exemption law chosen applies separately to each spouse. Thus, it is generally possible to double the amount of state law exemptions, Cheeseman v. Nachman, 656 F.2d 60 (4th Cir. 1981) (married couple filing a joint petition was entitled to double the Virginia homestead exemption), unless state law (e.g. California) specifically prohibits a couple from doubling certain exemptions. See First National Bank v. Norris, 701 F.2d 902 (11th Cir. 1984)(Alabama); Granger v. Watson, 754 F.2d 1490 (9th Cir. 1985)(California).

^ Top
Texas Homestead | Insurance | Pensions | Personal Property | Public Benefits | Tools of Trade | Wage Garnishment | Wild Card |

ADVERTISEMENT - LegalConsumer.com does not endorse or review advertised services.

Talk to a Local Bankruptcy Attorney

Enter Your Zip Code or Call (855) 410-1378 to Connect with a Lawyer In Your Area


Texas Homestead Exemption

Home Valuation tools

Zillow.com Recommended! Wonderful tool that shows home values in your neighborhood. This link will take you to a listing of the average home value in your zip code. Just add your street address to get an estimate of the value of your house, and all others in your neighborhood. (Note: Does not serve all areas, and valuations are imperfect estimates only.)

Yahoo Real Estate offers comparable home sales in your neighborhood.

Almost every state provides protection for equity in the family home, and many states have increased the amount of protection in recent years. Seven states offer unlimited protection. Most states are not as generous.

New Federal Residency Requirement

Under the new bankruptcy law, you must be have lived in the state for at least 40 months (three years and four months) before you can claim any homestead protection greater than $160,375. (If your state's exemption offers less than this amount, the law is irrelevant to you.) The law is poorly worded but seems to say that if you move from one home to another in the same state, you can claim that state's homestead protection.

IF you are moving to another state, OR you moved to Texas within in the last two years, click here.

Federal Exemptions

  • Real property, including co-op or mobile home, or burial plot to $23,675; unused portion of homestead to $11,850 may be applied to any property
    11 U.S.C. 522 (d)(1), (d)(5)




    (retirement funds to the extent that those funds are in a fund or account that is exempt from taxation under section 401, 403, 408, 408A, 414, 457, or 501(a) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986)
    (For assets in individual retirement accounts described in section 408 or 408A of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, other than a simplified employee pension under section 408(k) of such Code or a simple retirement account under section 408(p) of such Code)









    (Earned Income Tax Credit is federal no local, so not exempt)








Texas Exemptions

^ Top
Texas Homestead | Insurance | Pensions | Personal Property | Public Benefits | Tools of Trade | Wage Garnishment | Wild Card |


Texas Insurance exemptions

Virtually all states protect life insurance proceeds in some manner or another. Some restrict it to proceeds paid to a dependent. Many states also protect the cash-value or loan-value of insurance policies.

If a substantial amount of your assets are in life insurance, you may want to consult a professional to determine the extent to which those policies are exempt. The website AssetProtectionBook.com does particularly thorough job of covering Texas insurance exemptions.

Federal Exemptions

Texas Exemptions

^ Top
Texas Homestead | Insurance | Pensions | Personal Property | Public Benefits | Tools of Trade | Wage Garnishment | Wild Card |


Miscellaneous other exemptions for Texas

This category covers items like partnership property, alimony & support payments.

Federal Exemptions

Texas Exemptions

^ Top
Texas Homestead | Insurance | Pensions | Personal Property | Public Benefits | Tools of Trade | Wage Garnishment | Wild Card |


Texas Pensions & Retirement Savings Exemptions

The new federal bankruptcy law now automatically exempts a virtually all tax-exempt pensions and retirement savings accounts from bankruptcy, even if you are using state law exemptions. 11 U.S.C. § 522(b)(3)(C). (See Help Topic: Special Rules For Retirement Accounts.)

The law protects up to $1,283,025 of any pension or retirement fund that qualifies for special tax treatment under Internal Revenue Code sections 401, 402, 403, 408, 408A, 414, 457, or 501(a).

Federal Exemptions

  • All types of retirement funds and accounts that tax-exempt under IRC section 401, 403, 408, 408A, 414, 457, or 501(a) ; IRAs & Roth IRAs limited to $1,245,475 (excluding rollover contributions); limitation can be overidden by judge.
    11 U.S.C. 522 (d)(12)
    11 U.S.C. 522 (n)

Texas Exemptions

^ Top
Texas Homestead | Insurance | Pensions | Personal Property | Public Benefits | Tools of Trade | Wage Garnishment | Wild Card |

ADVERTISEMENT - LegalConsumer.com does not endorse or review advertised services.

Talk to a Local Bankruptcy Attorney

Enter Your Zip Code or Call (855) 410-1378 to Connect with a Lawyer In Your Area


Texas Personal Property Exemptions

Auto Valuation Tools:

Kelley Blue Book

Edmunds

Both of these websites offer interactive tools to determine the current value of your used car.

This category covers your car, your non-retirement bank accounts, and most of your other personal possessions, other than your house.

States vary widely on how generous they are in this area. Some exemptions may be for any combination of property up to an aggregate amount. Other exemptions apply only to specific items, such as jewelry.

Remember that an exemption will not protect your car from being repossessed by the holder of the car loan you used to purchase the vehicle if you pledged the vehicle as security for the loan. To keep the car, you will have to pursue other options such as 'redemption' or 'reaffirmation.' See the help topics and How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy for more on this.

Special notes about Texas Personal Property Exemptions: all personal property exemptions combined capped at $60,000 total for family, $30,000 for single adult. (see also Tools of Trade)

Federal Exemptions

Texas Exemptions

^ Top
Texas Homestead | Insurance | Pensions | Personal Property | Public Benefits | Tools of Trade | Wage Garnishment | Wild Card |


Texas Public Benefits Exemptions

Most states exempt public benefits, consistent with the notion that such benefits are intended as a safety net for the recipient.

Federal Exemptions

Texas Exemptions

^ Top
Texas Homestead | Insurance | Pensions | Personal Property | Public Benefits | Tools of Trade | Wage Garnishment | Wild Card |


Texas Tools of Trade Exemptions

These are the things you use to make a living. An automobile or truck can be a tool of trade if you use it as such. Commuting to work doesn't count, but if driving is a necessary component of transacting your business, you can claim your vehicle is a tool of trade.

Special notes about Texas Tools of Trade Exemptions: included in aggregate dollar limits for personal property (see Personal Property)

Federal Exemptions

Texas Exemptions

^ Top
Texas Homestead | Insurance | Pensions | Personal Property | Public Benefits | Tools of Trade | Wage Garnishment | Wild Card |

ADVERTISEMENT - LegalConsumer.com does not endorse or review advertised services.

Talk to a Local Bankruptcy Attorney

Enter Your Zip Code or Call (855) 410-1378 to Connect with a Lawyer In Your Area


Texas Wage Garnishment Laws

Most states have a wage garnishment law. In some states, wage garnishment laws can be used in bankruptcy as an exemption to protect income that you had coming due, but not yet received, as of the day you filed, for work you had already done -- so called "earned but unpaid wages".

In some states, the wage garnishment law protects not only wages owed to you, but also wages already in your possession and saved over time preferably holding it in a separate bank account. In other states wage garnishment laws do not protect wages once they are they are in your possession.

There is a federal wage garnishment protection found in the CCPA (Consumer Credit Protection Act), 15 U.S.C. § 1673, which limits how much of your pay can be taken for collection purposes. But this law law is generally found not to be an exemptions in bankrupty. See, e.g. IN RE HORTON, Case No. 10-53495., Bankr. ED Kentucky, 3/4/2011

Some courts have also held that some state wage garnishment laws do not create an exemption in bankruptcy. See, eg. Utah, Tennessee, Vermont, Missouri.

Other courts have held that state garnishment statutes DO create an exemption. See, e.g., Oregon, Iowa, Ohio, Kansas, Indiana.

And in Illinois there are recent published bankruptcy court opinions going both ways on the issue of whether Illinios wage garnishment law can be used as an exemption in bankruptcy.

Click here for collected case law on the question: Do wage garnishment laws create an exemption in bankruptcy?

Finally, if you live in a state that lets you use the Federal bankruptcy exemptions in 522(d), and you choose to use them, then you get no exemption for earned but unpaid wages; the wildcard exemption is your only option. See, e.g. U.S. v. Christensen, 200 B.R. 869 (D.S.D. 1996) (applying FDCPA law, based on similar statutory structure to bankruptcy's opt-out law)

Federal Exemptions

Texas Exemptions

^ Top
Texas Homestead | Insurance | Pensions | Personal Property | Public Benefits | Tools of Trade | Wage Garnishment | Wild Card |


Texas Wild Card Exemption

Most, but not all, states allow a so-called "wild-card" exemption that can apply to any property. The wild card exemption can be of particular help if one or more of your other exemptions falls short of protecting your equity. You may split your wild card exemption amount over multiple items and stack it atop other exemptions as needed to protect exposed equity.

Federal Exemptions

Texas Exemptions


ADVERTISEMENT - LegalConsumer.com does not endorse or review advertised services.

Talk to a Local Bankruptcy Attorney

Enter Your Zip Code or Call (855) 410-1378 to Connect with a Lawyer In Your Area