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California Bankruptcy Exemptions


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California Bankruptcy Exemptions

Does California Adjust Exemptions for Inflation?

Some states adjust exemption amounts for inflation. California does not.

Can I Use the Federal Bankruptcy Exemptions in California?

Federal Bankruptcy Exemptions Available?

Although the federal bankruptcy code provides a list of exemptions, these exemptions are not available in California. California law requires you to use the exemptions found in state law -- not the U.S. bankruptcy code.

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Background of state "opt out" laws

Every state has a list of exemptions that protect specific types and amounts of property from collections on judgements within that state.

When bankruptcy law was first modernized 50 years ago, the proposal was to have a federal list of bankruptcy exemptions apply uniformly across all 50 states. Many states objected to this idea, because state collection law had traditionally ruled that issues of collections and "asset protection" were matters of state, not federal law. So a compromise was struck, that allows states to "opt out" of the federal bankruptcy exemptions. 

Federal Non-Bankruptcy Exemptions

Federal "non-bankruptcy" exemptions are available in every state

You are entitled to use so-called federal "non-bankruptcy" exemptions in addition to your state law exemptions.

Non-bankruptcy exemptions are those exemption provisions of U.S. law that are NOT part of the bankruptcy code section section 522(d).

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,
  • Veterans Benefits

Other so called "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, seamen, and longshoremen.

 

Disclaimer

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 for April 2019.)

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.

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Homestead

California Homestead Exemption

Amount Joint amount

NOTE: Residency Requirement Caps Maximum Homestead at $160,375 if you've recently moved to a State that allows more than that

Under the 2005 bankruptcy law, you must be have lived in the state for at least 40 months (3 years + 4 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.) .

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

Federal Non-Bankruptcy Homestead Exemptions (available in every State)

These are exemptions under federal law, and not part of the bankruptcy code, so states cannot "opt out" from these exemptions.

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US Bankruptcy Code § 522(d) Homestead Exemption

Can a California debtor use the Federal Bankruptcy exemptions instead of California exemptions?

Although the federal bankruptcy code provides a list of exemptions, these exemptions are not available in California. California law requires you to use the exemptions found in state law -- not the U.S. bankruptcy code.

The Federal Bankruptcy Exemptions under 11 U.S.C. § 522(d) are available to you if

  • you haven't lived in any state longer than 180 days for a while,
  • or
  • if your state allows the Federal exemptions as a choice.

Home Valuation tool

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.)

Homestead Exemptions in Other States

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TBE

Does California Recognize Tenancy by the Entirety?

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Tenancy By The Entirety in Other States

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Insurance

California Insurance Exemptions

Federal Non-Bankruptcy Insurance Exemptions (available in all states)

US Bankruptcy Code § 522 Insurance Exemptions

The Federal Bankruptcy Code Exemptions under section 522 are available to you if

  • you haven't lived in any state longer than 180 days for a while, or
  • if your state allows the Federal exemptions as a choice.

Does California allow debtor the option of using the Federal Bankruptcy exemptions instead of state law exemptions?

Although the federal bankruptcy code provides a list of exemptions, these exemptions are not available in California. California law requires you to use the exemptions found in state law -- not the U.S. bankruptcy code.

Insurance Exemptions in Other States

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Misc

California Miscellaneous Exemptions

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US Bankruptcy Code § 522 Miscellaneous Exemptions

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Does California allow debtor the option of using the Federal Bankruptcy exemptions instead of state law exemptions?

Although the federal bankruptcy code provides a list of exemptions, these exemptions are not available in California. California law requires you to use the exemptions found in state law -- not the U.S. bankruptcy code.

The Federal Bankruptcy Exemptions are available to you if
  • you haven't lived in any state longer than 180 days for a while, or
  • if your state allows the Federal exemptions as a choice.

 

Miscellaneous Exemptions in Other States

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Pensions

California Pension Exemptions

Federal Non-Bankruptcy Pension & Retirement Exemptions (available in every state)

Federal Bankruptcy Code § 522(d) Pension & Retirement Exemptions

The Federal Bankruptcy Exemptions under 11 U.S.C are available to you if

  • you haven't lived in any state longer than 180 days for a while, or
  • if your state allows the Federal exemptions as a choice.

Does California allow debtor the option of using the Federal Bankruptcy exemptions instead of state law exemptions?

Although the federal bankruptcy code provides a list of exemptions, these exemptions are not available in California. California law requires you to use the exemptions found in state law -- not the U.S. bankruptcy code.

Pension & Retirement Exemptions in Other States

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Personal Property

California Motor Vehicle Exemption & Other Personal Property Exemptions

California Motor Vehicle Exemption

California Personal Property Exemptions

Federal Non-Bankruptcy Personal Property Exemptions (available in every state)

Federal Bankruptcy Code § 522(d) Personal Property Exemptions

The Federal Bankruptcy Exemptions are available to you if

  • you haven't lived in any state longer than 180 days for a while, or
  • if your state allows the Federal exemptions as a choice.

Does California allow debtor the option of using the Federal Bankruptcy exemptions instead of state law exemptions?

Although the federal bankruptcy code provides a list of exemptions, these exemptions are not available in California. California law requires you to use the exemptions found in state law -- not the U.S. bankruptcy code.

Personal Property Exemptions in Other States

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Public Benefits

Public Benefits Exemptions for California

Federal "non-bankruptcy" Public Benefits exemptions (available in all states)

Federal Bankruptcy Code §522(d) Public Benefits Exemptions

The Federal Bankruptcy Exemptions are available to you if

  • you haven't lived in any state longer than 180 days for a while, or
  • if your state allows the Federal exemptions as a choice.

Does California allow debtor the option of using the Federal Bankruptcy exemptions instead of state law exemptions?

Although the federal bankruptcy code provides a list of exemptions, these exemptions are not available in California. California law requires you to use the exemptions found in state law -- not the U.S. bankruptcy code.

Public Benefits Exemptions in Other States

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Tools of Trade

California Tools of Trade Exemptions

California Tools of Trade Exemptions

Federal non-bankrupcty Tools of Trade Exemptions

US Bankruptcy Code § 522 (d) Tools of Trade Exemptions

The Federal Bankruptcy Exemptions are available to you if

  • you haven't lived in any state longer than 180 days for a while, or
  • if your state allows the Federal exemptions as a choice.

Does California allow debtor the option of using the Federal Bankruptcy exemptions instead of state law exemptions?

Although the federal bankruptcy code provides a list of exemptions, these exemptions are not available in California. California law requires you to use the exemptions found in state law -- not the U.S. bankruptcy code.

Tools of Trade Exemptions in Other States

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Wages

California Wage Garnishment

Federal Non-Bankruptcy Law (available in all states)

Federal "non-bankruptcy" law also offers exemption protection for wages.

US Bankruptcy Code § 522 Wage Garnishment Exemptions

The Federal Bankruptcy Exemptions are available to you if

  • you haven't lived in any state longer than 180 days for a while, or
  • if your state allows the Federal exemptions as a choice.

Does California allow debtor the option of using the Federal Bankruptcy exemptions instead of state law exemptions?

Although the federal bankruptcy code provides a list of exemptions, these exemptions are not available in California. California law requires you to use the exemptions found in state law -- not the U.S. bankruptcy code.

Wage Garnishment in Other States

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WildCard

California WildCard Exemption

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Federal Bankruptcy Wildcard Exemptions

The Federal Bankruptcy Exemptions are available to you if

  • you haven't lived in any state longer than 180 days for a while, or
  • if your state allows the Federal exemptions as a choice.

Does California allow debtor the option of using the Federal Bankruptcy exemptions instead of state law exemptions?

Although the federal bankruptcy code provides a list of exemptions, these exemptions are not available in California. California law requires you to use the exemptions found in state law -- not the U.S. bankruptcy code.

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WildCard Exemptions in Other States

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