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List of Things (property, assets) You May Keep When Filing Bankruptcy in New York State

Below are lists of what you are entitled to keep following a bankruptcy filing. If you have assets which are not exempt, either because they are worth too much or do not fit with one of the available exemptions listed below, you may still be able to keep the property. You may be able to keep all or most of your assets through either a Chapter 13 filing or buy negotiating a "buy-back" of your property with the bankruptcy trustee. Consult with a local bankruptcy attorney for answers any specific questions you have about asset retention.

The first list shows the property you may keep if you choose to use New York State exemptions when filing bankruptcy. The second list shows available Federal exemptions. You must choose one list of exemptions or the other; you cannot combine or use both New York and Federal exemptions. Note that married debtors filing jointly may double exemptions listed below.

NEW YORK STATE EXEMPTIONS:

1. $10,000 in Personal Property

You may protect up to $10,000 worth of total value in personal property and household items. The assets which may be exempted under this part are stoves and heating equipment for use in your home and fuel for 120 days, sewing machine, religious texts, family photos and portraits, school books, books up to $500 in value, seat or pew used for religious worship, domestic animals up to $1,000 in value, food for you and your family for 120 days, clothing, furniture, refrigerator, radio, TV, computer, cell phone, kitchenwares, prescribed health aids, wedding ring, and watch/jewelry/art up to $1,000 in value. Note that these items are specific, and you cannot exempt items under this part in addition to the list, such as additional televisions, DVD players, washer and dryer, etc. Therefore, most debtors have several personal property items which are considered non-exempt. If you do not use the homestead exemption, and have claimed personal property exemptions under this part less than $10,000 in total, you may use the remaining amount, or up to $5,000, whichever is less, to protect additional cash or the right to receive income tax refunds. For instance, if you do not own a home, and your personal items are valued at $4,000, you may keep cash, funds in bank accounts, or income tax refunds, up to $5,000.

2. Primary Residence

A house, condominium, co-op, or mobile home used as a residence, may be retained up to the following values*, based on the county in which the property is located:

-$150,000 in Kings, Queens, New York, Bronx, Richmond, Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland, Westchester and, Putnam counties

-$125,000 in Dutchess, Albany, Columbia, Orange, Saratoga, and Ulster counties

-$75,000 in all other remaining counties of the state

*Note that "value" means the amount of equity in your home. For instance, if you own a home worth $175,000, with a mortgage of $150,000, you may retain your home as it only has $25,000 equity.

3. $600 on Deposit with a Savings and Loan Association

This exemption does not apply to banks and other financial institutions which are not considered savings and loan associations.

4. Vehicle Up to $4,000 in Value

As with the home exemption, the $4,000 in "value" applies to amount of equity in your vehicle. If your vehicle is worth $15,000, and you owe $13,000 for the vehicle loan, your vehicle is exempt. A vehicle up to $10,000 in value may be retained if equipped for use by a disabled debtor. The motor vehicle exemption does not protect your vehicle from debt owed for domestic support obligations or to the State of New York.

5. Retirement Benefits

An IRA, 401(k), Keogh, or other qualified retirement plan; Social Security, unemployment, disability, public assistance, workers' compensation or veteran's benefits may be retained.

6. Tools Used for Work

Tools necessary for your profession up to $3,000 in value are exempt. Note that "tools" need not mean "tools" in the common sense, and could mean a computer, desk or other items necessary for your employment or business.

7. $1,000 of any personal property or cash (if you don't use the homestead exemption) is exempt.

Other exemptions exist under New York law; however, the above exemptions are more common and the exemptions not listed do not apply to most debtors.

Federal Bankruptcy Exemptions:

1. Home

The home must be the primary residence of the debtor, and up to $22,975 in equity may be retained.

2. Vehicle

A motor vehicle worth $3,675 or up to $3,675 equity is exempt.

3. Household Items (up to $12,250 in total value)

4. Any Other Property (worth up to $1,225 total)

5. Tools Used for Work

Tools of the trade up to $2,300 may be retained. Note that "tools" need not mean "tools" in the common sense, and could mean a computer, desk or other items necessary for your employment or business.

6. Life Insurance (cash value up to $12,250)

7. Jewelry (worth up to $1,550)

8. $11,500

Any assets worth up to $11,500 may be retained up to the amount of the homestead exemption not used. For instance, if you have a home with $10,000 equity, you may retain any additional assets you wish up to $11,500 in value. If you have no home, you may also use the $11,500 exemption. If your home has $20,000 in equity, you may only retain additional assets worth up to $2,975, the difference between the total homestead exemption available of $22,975 and the amount used ($20,000).

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