Filing Means Test Exemptions Courts Forms
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Does your state allow you to use federal exemptions?

Can I Use the Federal Exemptions in My State?

Federal bankruptcy law has its own list of exemptions 11 U.S.C. § 522, but some states require you to use only the state law exemptions instead, while other states offer a choice of the state or federal exemptions. Find out what your state does.
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Updated: 2021-01-26
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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. 

Many States have "opted out" including some major ones like California.

In states that have not opted out, you have the option of using the federal or state exemptions. 

In some states, the better choice is clear, because the federal exemptions are more generous when it comes to things like motor vehicles and homes. 


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