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For more information about bankruptcy, please call us at 408-294-6100, or e-mail us via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . One of our attorneys will be able to answer any questions which you may have in greater detail. Please remember that the foregoing information is of a general nature, and does not constitute legal advice. The facts of each situation are unique, and we must discuss those facts with you before any advice can be given.

Bankruptcy Exemptions

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What are the exemptions allowed in California?

The California bankruptcy exemptions chart, see below, details the property you can exempt or protect from creditors. You may exempt any property that falls into one of the exemptions categories below, up to the dollar amount listed. You will be able to kept this exempted property after you file bankruptcy.

To keep non-exempt property, a debtor must generally pay the trustee the value of the non-exempt property.

California has two sets of exemptions. You must choose System 1 or System 2 based on your circumstances. System 1 is generally indicated if you own real property. You also may use certain Federal Exemptions in addition to your California exemptions.

CALIFORNIA EXEMPTION SYSTEM 1

ASSET

EXEMPTION DESCRIPTION

LAW SECTION

Homestead Real or personal property you occupy including mobile home, boat, stock cooperative, community apartment, planned development or condominium unit is exempt to the extent of:

$50,000 if single and not disabled;

$75,000 for families if no other member has a homestead (if only one spouse files, may exempt one-half of amount if home held as community property and all of amount if home held as tenants in common);

$150,000 if 65 or older, physically or mentally disabled, or if 55 or older, single and earn under $15,000 or married and earn under $20,000 and creditors seek to force the sale of your home.

Sale proceeds from an exempt homestead are exempt for 6 months after received.

A husband and wife may not double their homestead exemption.

CCCP § 704.710
CCCP § 704.720
CCCP § 704.730

In re McFall, 112 B.R. 336 (9th Cir. B.A.P. 1990)

Motor Vehicles Motor vehicles to $2,300, or $2,300 in auto insurance if vehicle(s), lost, damaged or destroyed.

Sale proceeds from an exempt motor vehicle are exempt for 90 days after received.

A husband and wife may not double their motor vehicle exemption.

CCCP § 704.010
Household Furnishings All ordinary and reasonable household furnishings, appliances, food, wearing apparel, and other personal effects. CCCP § 704.020
Building Materials Home improvement and building materials to $2,425 if they are about to be applied to the repair or improvement of your residence.

A husband and wife may not double their building materials exemption.

CCCP § 704.030
Jewelry Jewelry, heirlooms and works of art to $6,075 total.

A husband and wife may not double their jewelry exemption.

CCCP § 704.040
Health Aids Health aids including prosthetic and orthopedic appliances. CCCP § 704.050
Tools of the Trade Tools, implements, instruments, materials, uniforms, furnishings, books, equipment, one commercial motor vehicle, one vessel, and other personal property that are reasonably necessary and actually used in the exercise of the trade, business, or profession by which you earn a livelihood to $6,075.

A husband and wife may double their tools of the trade exemption if they jointly operate the trade, business, or profession by which they both earn a livelihood.

Commercial motor vehicles are limited to $4,850 ($9,700 for husband and wife operating the same business).

You cannot claim a motor vehicle under tools of trade exemption if you claimed the same motor vehicle or a motor vehicle suitable for business purposes under motor vehicle exemption.

CCCP § 704.060
Paid Earnings 100% of earnings paid within 30 days are exempt if you are subject to an earnings assignment order for support.

75% of earnings paid within 30 days are exempt if you are not subject to an earnings assignment order for support.

CCCP § 704.070
Bank Accounts Public benefit payments directly deposited into a bank account to $1,225 ($1,825 if joint benefit payees).

Social security benefit payments directly deposited into a bank account to $2,425 ($3,650 if joint benefit payees).

In some cases all public benefit and social security benefit payments directly deposited into a bank account are exempt.

Paid earnings (see Paid Earnings).

Paid retirement benefits (see Retirement Benefits).

Paid life insurance death benefit (see Life Insurance).

CCCP § 704.080

CCCP § 704.080(c)


42 U.S.C. § 407

CCCP § 704.070

CCCP § 704.110(d)
CCCP § 704.115(d)

CCCP § 704.100(c)

Prisoner Accounts Inmates’ trust fund to $1,225 if inmate is not subject to a restitution fine or similar order. If inmate is subject to a restitution fine or similar order to $300.

A husband and wife are each entitled to a separate exemption or may double their inmate trust fund exemption.

CCP § 704.090
Life Insurance Unmatured life insurance, endowment, and annuity policies (unpaid death benefits) are 100% exempt.

Unmatured life insurance, endowment, and annuity policies (loan value) are exempt to the extent of $9,700.

A husband and wife are each entitled to a separate exemption or may double their unmatured life insurance loan value exemption.

Benefits from matured life insurance, endowment, and annuity policies (paid death benefits) are exempt to the extent reasonably necessary for the support of you, your spouse, and your dependants.

Life insurance proceeds (paid death benefits) if clause in life insurance policy prohibits proceeds from being used to pay beneficiary’s creditors.

CCCP § 704.100

Ins. Code § 10132
Ins. Code § 10170

Retirement Benefits Public retirement benefits are exempt.

Private and union retirement benefits, profit-sharing plans designed and used for retirement purposes, self-employed retirement plans, IRAs, and Keoghs are exempt to the extent necessary to provide support for you, your spouse, and your dependants when you retire.

CCCP § 704.110

CCCP § 704.115

Pensions Plans Public employees pension plans are exempt.


County employees pension plans are exempt.


County peace officers pension plans are exempt.


County firefighters pension plans are exempt.

Gov. Code § 21255

Gov. Code § 31452

Gov. Code § 31913

Gov. Code § 32210

Vacation Credits All accumulated (unpaid) vacation credits of state and public employees are exempt. All paid vacation credits are treated as earnings. (See Paid Earnings). CCCP § 704.113
Unemployment Unemployment benefits paid by the state or a fraternal organization to its members is exempt.

Benefits paid by a labor union due to a labor dispute are exempt.

CCCP § 704.120
Health & Disability Insurance Benefits from a disability or health insurance policy or program are exempt. CCCP § 704.130
Personal Injury Actions A cause of action (claim before recovery) for personal injury is exempt.

An award of damages or a settlement (lump-sum) arising out of a personal injury is exempt to the extent necessary for the support of you, your spouse, and your dependants.

Where an award of damages or a settlement arising out of a personal injury is payable in installments (structured settlement) it is treated as earnings. (See Paid Earnings).

CCCP § 704.140(a)

CCCP § 704.140(b)

CCCP § 704.140(d)

Wrongful Death Actions A cause of action (claim before recovery) for wrongful death is exempt.

An award of damages or a settlement (lump-sum) arising out of a wrongful death of your spouse, or someone for whom you were a dependant, is exempt to the extent necessary for the support of you, your spouse, and your dependants.

Where an award of damages or a settlement arising out of a wrongful death of your spouse, or someone for whom you were a dependant, is payable in installments (structured settlement) it is treated as earnings. (See Paid Earnings).

CCCP § 704.150(a)

CCCP § 704.150(b)

CCCP § 704.150(c)

Workers’ Compensation Workers’ compensation claims, awards, and payments are exempt. CCCP § 704.160(a)
Welfare & Fraternal Benefits Welfare, aid to blind/aged/disabled, AFDC, food stamps, and fraternal benefit society payments are exempt. CCCP § 704.170
Relocation Benefits Relocation benefits for displacement from your home are exempt. CCCP § 704.180
Student Financial Aid Student financial aid is exempt. CCCP § 704.190
Burial Plots Burial, cemetery, and family plots for you and your spouse are exempt. CCCP § 704.200
Other Property Any other property that is not subject to enforcement of a money judgment is exempt. (e.g. property that is not assignable or transferable).

Licenses issued by a public entity to engage in a business, profession, or activity are not subject to enforcement of a money judgment.

Property of a business partnership is not subject to enforcement of a money judgment against a partner.

Fidelity bonds are not subject to enforcement of a money judgment held by a general creditor.

CCCP § 704.210

CCCP § 695.060



Corp. Code § 16501


Labor Code § 404

CALIFORNIA EXEMPTION SYSTEM 2

PLEASE NOTE: Married couples may not double any exemptions. CCCP §703.110; In re Talmadge, 822 F.2d 1120 (9th Cir. 1987); In re Baldwin, 70 B.R. 612 (9th Cir. B.A.P. 1987).

ASSET

EXEMPTION DESCRIPTION

LAW SECTION

Homestead Real or personal property you live in including mobile home, boat, stock cooperative, community apartment, planned development or condominium unit or in a burial plot is exempt to $18,675.

Any unused portion of homestead exemption may be applied to any other property.

CCCP
§ 703.140(b)(1)
Motor Vehicles Motor vehicles are exempt to a total value of $2,975. CCCP
§ 703.140(b)(2)
Household Furnishings Household furnishings, household goods, wearing apparel, appliances, books, animals, crops, or musical instruments are exempt to $475 per item. CCCP
§ 703.140(b)(3)

Jewelry Jewelry is exempt to a total value of $1,225. CCCP
§ 703.140(b)(4)
Wild Card Exemption Any other property to a total value of $1,000 plus any unused portion of the Homestead exemption. CCCP
§ 703.140(b)(5)
Tools of the Trade Tools, implements, or professional books used in your trade to a total value of $1,875. CCCP
§ 703.140(b)(6)
Life Insurance Unmatured life insurance (unpaid death benefit), other than credit life insurance, is 100% exempt.

Accrued dividends, interest, or loan value of unmatured life insurance insuring your life or the life of your dependant and owned by you is exempt to the total value of $9,975.

Benefits from matured life insurance (death benefit) is exempt to the extent reasonably necessary for the support of you and your dependants.

CCCP
§ 703.140(b)(7)

CCCP
§ 703.140(b)(8)

CCCP
§ 703.140(b)(11)(C)

Health Aids Professionally prescribed health aids for you and your dependants are 100% exempt. CCCP
§ 703.140(b)(9)
Public Benefits Social Security, Unemployment Compensation, and Public Assistance Benefits are 100% exempt.

Veteran’s Benefits are 100% exempt.

Disability, illness, and Unemployment Benefits are 100% exempt.

Alimony, support, or separate maintenance is exempt to the extent reasonably necessary for the support of you and your dependants.

Awards under a crime victim’s reparation law are 100% exempt.

CCCP
§ 703.140(b)(10)(A)

CCCP
§ 703.140(b)(10)(B)

CCCP
§ 703.140(b)(10)(C)

CCCP
§ 703.140(b)(10)(D)

CCCP
§ 703.140(b)(11)(A)

Pension Plans Payments under stock bonus, pension, profit-sharing, annuity, or similar plans which are payable on account of illness, disability, death, age, or length of service are exempt to the extent reasonably necessary for the support of you and your dependants. CCCP
§ 703.140(b)(10)(E)

Wrongful Death Actions Payments on account of the wrongful death of an individual of whom you were a dependant (your parents or spouse) are exempt to the extent reasonably necessary for the support of you and your dependants. CCCP
§ 703.140(b)(11)(B)
Personal Injury Actions Payments on account of personal bodily injury, not including pain and suffering or compensation for actual pecuniary loss, of you or your dependant is exempt to the extent of $18,675.

Payments in compensation of loss of your future earnings or the future earnings of a person for whom you are or were a dependant (parent or spouse) are exempt to the extent reasonably necessary for the support of you and your dependants.

CCCP
§ 703.140(b)(11)(D)

CCCP
§ 703.140(b)(11)(E)

Other Property Any other property that is not subject to enforcement of a money judgment is exempt. (e.g. property that is not assignable or transferable).

Licenses issued by a public entity to engage in a business, profession, or activity are not subject to enforcement of a money judgment.

Property of a business partnership is not subject to enforcement of a money judgment against a partner.

Fidelity bonds are not subject to enforcement of a money judgment held by a general creditor.

CCCP
§ 704.210


CCCP § 695.060

Corp. Code § 16501


Labor Code § 404

Wages No exemption

ADDITIONAL FEDERAL EXEMPTIONS

ASSET

EXEMPTION DESCRIPTION

LAW SECTION

Retirement Benefits CIA employees

Civil service employees

Foreign service employees

Military honor roll pensions

Military service employees

Railroad workers

Social Security

Veterans' benefits

Veterans' medal of honor benefits

50 U.S.C. § 403

5 U.S.C.§ 8346

22 U.S.C. § 4060

38 U.S.C. § 562

10 U.S.C. § 1440

45 U.S.C. § 231m

42 U.S.C. § 407

38 U.S.C. § 3101

38 U.S.C. § 562

Survivor's benefits Judges, US court directors, judicial center directors, supreme court chief justice administrators

Lighthouse workers

Military service

28 U.S.C. § 376

33 U.S.C. § 775

10 U.S.C. § 1450

Death & Disability Benefits Government employees

Longshoremen and harbor workers

War risk hazard death or injury compensation

5 U.S.C. § 8130

33 U.S.C. § 916

42 U.S.C. § 1717

Miscellaneous Klamath Indian tribe benefits for Indians residing in Oregon

Military deposits in savings accounts while on permanent duty outside continental U.S.

Military group life insurance

Railroad workers' unemployment insurance

Seamen's clothing

Seamen's wages (while at sea) pursuant to a written contract

Consumer Law Center, Inc., designated as a Federal Debt Relief Agency by an Act of Congress and the President of the United States, proudly assists consumers seeking relief under the United States Bankruptcy Code.

For more information about bankruptcy, please call us at 408-294-6100, or e-mail us via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . One of our attorneys will be able to answer any questions which you may have in greater detail. Please remember that the foregoing information is of a general nature, and does not constitute legal advice. The facts of each situation are unique, and we must discuss those facts with you before any advice can be given.