Colorado Homestead Exemption
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.
Federal Law Residency Requirement
Under the 2005 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.) .
- CO Exemptions
- Real property, mobile home, manufactured home, or house trailer you occupy to $75,000; $105,000 if owner, spouse, or dependent is disabled or age 60 or older; sale proceeds exempt 2 years after received (husband & wife may double)
Colo. Rev. Stat. § 38-41-201
Colo. Rev. Stat. § 38-41-201.6
Colo. Rev. Stat. § 38-41-203
Colo. Rev. Stat. § 38-41-207
In re Pastrana, 216 B.R. 948 (Colo. 1998)
- Spouse or child of deceased owner may claim homestead exemption
Colo. Rev. Stat. § 38-41-204
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.)
Colorado 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.
- Disability benefits to $200 per month; if receive lump sum, entire amount exempt
Colo. Rev. Stat. § 10-16-212
- Homeowners' insurance proceeds for 1 year after received, to homestead exemption amount
Colo. Rev. Stat. § 38-41-209
- Life insurance cash surrender value to $100,000, except contributions to policy within past 48 months
Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-54-102 (1)(l)
- Life insurance proceeds if clause prohibits proceeds from being used to pay beneficiary's creditors
Colo. Rev. Stat. § 10-7-106
Miscellaneous other exemptions for Colorado
Colorado 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 forspecial tax treatment under Internal Revenue Code sections 401,402, 403, 408, 408A, 414, 457, or 501(a).
- ERISA-qualified benefits, including IRAs and Roth IRAs
Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-54-102 (1)(s)
- Firefighters & police officers
Colo. Rev. Stat. § 31-30.5-208
Colo. Rev. Stat. § 31-31-203
- Public employees' pensions
Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-51-212
- Public employees' pensions, deferred compensation & defined contribution plans
Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-51-212
Colo. Rev. Stat. § 22-64-120
- Veteran's pension for veteran, spouse, or dependents if veteran served during war or armed conflict
Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-54-104
Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-54-102 (1)(h)
Colorado Personal Property Exemptions
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.
- 1 burial plot per family member
Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-54-102 (1)(d)
- Clothing to $2,000
Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-54-102 (1)(a)
- Family pictures & books to $2,000
Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-54-102 (1)(c)
- Food & fuel to $600
Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-54-102 (1)(f)
- Health Aids
Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-54-102 (1)(p)
- Household goods to $3,000
Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-54-102 (1)(e)
- Jewelry & articles of adornment (watches) to $2,500
Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-54-102 (1)(b)
- Motor vehicles or bicycles used for work to $7,500; to $12,500 if used by a debtor or by a dependent who is disabled or age 60 or older
Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-54-102 (j)(I), (II)
- Personal injury recoveries
Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-54-102 (1)(n)
- Proceeds for damaged exempt property
Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-54-102 (1)(m)
- Security deposits
Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-54-102 (1)(r)
Auto Valuation Tools:
Both of these websites offer interactive tools to determine the current value of your used car.
Colorado Public Benefits Exemptions
Most states exempt public benefits, consistent with the notion that such benefits are intended as a safety net for the recipient.
- Aid to blind, aged, disabled; public assistance
Colo. Rev. Stat. § 26-2-131
- Crime victims' compensation
Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-4.1-114
Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-54-102 (1)(q)
- Disability benefits to $3,000
Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-54-102 (v)
- Earned income tax credit or refund
Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-54-102 (1)(o)
- Unemployment compensation
Colo. Rev. Stat. § 8-80-103
- Veteran's benefits for veteran, spouse, or child if veteran served in war or armed conflict
Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-54-102 (1)(h)
- Workers' compensation
Colo. Rev. Stat. § 8-42-124
Colorado 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.
- Livestock or other animals, machinery, tools, equipment, & seed of person engaged in agriculture, to $50,000 total
Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-54-102 (1)(g)
- Military equipment personally owned by members of the national guard
Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-54-102 (1)(h.5)
- Professional's library to $3,000 (if not claimed under other tools of trade exemption)
Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-54-102 (1)(k)
- Stock in trade, supplies, fixtures, tools, machines, electronics, equipment, books, & other business materials for debtor's primary occupation, to $30,000 total. $10,000 exemption for such items for an occupation that is not debtor's primary occupation.
Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-54-102 (1)(i)
Colorado 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.
Colorado 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.
Links About Colorado Bankruptcy Exemptions
- ABI Front Range Consumer Workshop January 2012 - PDF of Bankruptcy Case Law update from January 2012 for Colorado and nationwide.
- U.S. Bankruptcy Court - District of Colorado - Chambers for the Honorable A. Bruce Campbell -