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Exemptions:

The first question that comes to mind when considering bankruptcy is whether you can keep certain properties. Below are some of the significant New York State Bankruptcy Exemptions:

No Asset Details Amount Authority
1 Cash, Exemption Includes: cash, bank accounts, saving bonds and tax refunds $5,000 - Only available if not using Homestead Exemption. Also, this exemption will be reduced if using more than $5,000 of Personal Property Exemption or if exempting an annuity that was purchased within the past 6 months. N.Y. Debt. and Cred. Law § 283 (2)
2 Cemetery Exemption Land, set apart as a family or private burying ground, is exempt upon the following conditions only: 1. a portion of it must have been actually used for that purpose; 2. it must not exceed in extent one-fourth of an acre; and 3. it must not contain any building or structure, except one or more vaults or other places of deposit for the dead, or mortuary monuments Exempt N.Y. Civ. Prac. Law § 5206 (f)
3 Crime Victim Award An award under a crime victim's reparation law Exempt N.Y. Debt. and Cred. Law § 282 (3) (i) N.Y. Exec. Law § 632
4 Future Earnings A payment in compensation of loss of future earnings of the debtor or an individual of whom the debtor is or was a dependent. To the extent reasonably necessary for the support of the debtor & any dependent of the debtor. N.Y. Civ. Prac. Law § 5205 (h) (1)
5 Health Aids: Medical and Dental accessories   Exempt N.Y. Civ. Prac. Law § 5205 (h) (1)
6 Health Aids: Guide, service or hearing dog   Exempt N.Y. Civ. Prac. Law § 5205 (h) (2)
7 Homestead Exemption Home, co-op, condo or mobile home $150,000 for the following counties: Richmond, Kings, Queens, New York, Bronx, Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland and Putnam $125,000 for the following counties: Dutchess, Orange, Ulster, Columbia , Albany and Saratoga $75,000 for all other counties. N.Y. Civ. Prac. Law § 5206 (a)
8 Insurance: Annuity The use of this exemption may limit your cash and personal property exemptions. Exempt unless a court finds a portion of such payments are not necessary to meet the debtor's ordinary financial needs. Annuities purchased within 6 months of filing are limited to $10,000. N.Y. Ins. Law § 3212 N.Y. Debt. and Cred. Law § 283 (1)
9 Insurance: Disability Insurance   Exempt N.Y. Ins. Law § 3212 (c) N.Y. Debt. and Cred. Law § 282 (2) (c)
10 Insurance: Life Insurance Proceeds from a life insurance policy Exempt N.Y. Ins. Law § 3212 (b) N.Y. Debt. and Cred. Law § 282 (2) (e)
11 Matrimonial awards Payments pursuant to an award in a matrimonial action, for the support of a wife, where the wife is the judgment debtor, or for the support of a child, where the child is the judgment debtor. Exempt to the extent reasonably necessary for the support of the debtor and any dependent of the debtor. N.Y. Civ. Prac. Law § 5205(d) (3) N.Y. Debt. and Cred. Law § 282 (2) (d)
12 Motor Vehicle 1 per debtor ($4,000 limit) If motor vehicle has been equipped for use by a disabled debtor then the limit is $10,000) N.Y. Debt. and Cred. Law § 282 (1)
13 New York State College Choice Tuition Savings Program Trust Fund Funds in an account created pursuant to article fourteen-A of the education law are exempt from application to the satisfaction of a money judgment as follows: 100% of monies in an account established in connection with a scholarship 100% of monies in an account is exempt where the judgment debtor is the account owner and designated beneficiary of such account and is a minor An amount not exceeding $10,000 in an account, or in the aggregate for more than one account, is exempt where the judgment debtor is the account owner. N.Y. Civ. Prac. Law § 5205(j)
14 Partnership Property of a partnership Exempt N.Y. Partnership Law §5 1 (c)
15 Personal Injury Payment on account of personal bodily injury. $7,500 (does not include pain and suffering or compensation for actual pecuniary loss) N.Y. Debt. and Cred. Law § 282 (3) (iii)
16 Pension and Retirement Benefits Payments under a stock bonus, pension plan such as 401 (k), 403 (b) or other ERSIA approved plan, IRA, profit sharing or similar plan are exempt. To the extent reasonably necessary to support debtor and dependents unless the plan was established by the debtor or an insider that employed the debtor. N.Y. Debt. and Cred. Law § 282(2)(e) N.Y. Civ. Prac. Law § 5205(c) N.Y. Ins. Law § 4607
17 Personal Property Stoves and heating equipment with fuel for 120 days sewing machine books, photos and family portraits ( $500 limit) seat or pew at place of public worship domestic animals and food for 120 days ($1,000 limit) wearing apparel, household furniture, refrigerator, radio, television, computer, cell phone, crockery, tableware, cooking utensils, health aids wedding ring, watch, jewelry and art ($1,000 limit) tools of trade ($3,000 limit). If no homestead exemption is claimed, then $1,000 in personal property, bank account or cash. This exemption is only available if not using the Homestead Exemption. The aggregate value of assets allowed to be exempt under this section is limited to $10,000. Also, this exemption will be reduced if exempting an annuity that was purchased within the past 6 months. N.Y. Civ. Prac. Law § 5205(a ) (1-9)
18 Public Assistance   Exempt N.Y. Debt. and Cred. Law § 282 (2) (a) N.Y.Soc. Serv. Law §137
19 Security Deposits   Exempt N.Y. Civ. Prac. Law § 5205(g)
20 Social Security   Exempt N.Y. Debt. and Cred. Law § 282 (2) (a)
21 Trust   Exempt N.Y. Civ. Prac. Law § 5205(c)
22 Trust Fund Income 90% 90% N.Y. Civ. Prac. Law § 5205(d) (1)
23 Unemployment Compensation   Exempt N.Y. Civ. Prac. Law § 5205(a) (7) N.Y. Lab. Law § 595 N.Y. Debt. and Cred. Law § 282 (2) (a)
24 Unpaid milk proceeds   90% N.Y. Civ. Prac. Law § 5205(d) (2)
25 Veterans' Benefits   Exempt N.Y. Debt. and Cred. Law § 282 (2) (b)
26 Wages Earnings received within 60 days or any time after income execution by Sheriff 90% of the earnings for his personal services N.Y. Civ. Prac. Law § 5205(d) N.Y.Soc. Serv. Law §137-a
27 Wages: Armed Forces   Exempt N.Y. Civ. Prac. Law § 5205(a) (9)
28 Wild Card for personal property, bank accounts or cash if no homestead exemption is claimed $1,000 N.Y. Civ. Prac. Law § 5205(a) (9)
29 Workers' Compensation   Exempt N.Y. Debt. and Cred. Law § 282 (2) (c)
30 Wrongful Death Payment on account of the wrongful death of an individual of whom the debtor was a dependent. To the extent reasonably necessary for the support of the debtor and any dependent of the debtor N.Y. Debt. and Cred. Law § 282 (3) (ii)

NOTE: These are the major bankruptcy exemptions. Call our office for a full exemptions list.

Non-Dischargeable Debts

There are certain debts and obligations that can never be discharged in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. They are as follows:

All debts that you didn't list on your bankruptcy petition will not be discharged;

  • Criminal fines and debts -- All court fees and court-ordered judgments related to any criminal activity cannot be discharged -- neither are any judgments or debts incurred as a result of personal injury or death to others caused by your own negligence or criminal activity.

  • Student Loans that have been in repayment status for at least seven years. Although there is a general policy not to discharge student loan debt; in some very rare circumstances, older student loans can be discharged, particularly if a hardship condition exists.

  • Taxes -- Federal, state and municipal taxes that became due within the last three years.

  • Fraudulent debts -- Any debt that the court finds was obtained fraudulently or illegally will not be discharged. For example, if you ran up debt on a credit card shortly before filing bankruptcy (within 60 to 90 days of filing), the court will refuse to discharge that debt. In addition, if you lied on a loan application to obtain funds -- that related debt will not be forgiven in bankruptcy.

  • Dischargeable debt you incurred to pay off non-dischargeable debt -- For example, you cannot take a cash advance on a credit card to pay off last year's taxes, just so you can write it off in bankruptcy.

  • Alimony and child support payments (court-ordered) are not dischargeable.

  • Divorce and property settlements are not dischargeable unless the other party agrees to it.

    If you are not a good candidate for Chapter 7 bankruptcy for any of the reasons listed above, you might still be a good candidate for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. To qualify for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must have an income that allows you to pay back your debts over a 3-5 year period and your current debts cannot exceed limits set forth in the bankruptcy code.

  • Priority debt -- you have a significant amount of priority debt (taxes, wages owed to employees and any social security benefits, pensions, etc.) that would not be dischargeable under a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Priortity debt is dischargeable under Chapter 13.

  • Valuable property -- you don't want to turn certain property over to the bankruptcy trustee for auction. For example, a diamond ring that is a family heirloom and which exceeds the value of your allowable exemption.

  • Secured debt -- you are behind on your mortgage or car payment, but would like to keep these assets. Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows you to keep this property and catch up on arrearages.

  • Dishonest activity -- you can get out of paying a significant portion of debt incurred from fraud or malicious and criminal activity in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Although Chapter 13 requires debtors to pay back their creditors over a 3-5 year plan, in reality, unsecured creditors are not paid back in full. The average unsecured creditor gets about 60% of what is owed him; and some unsecured creditors, like credit card companies, get just pennies on the dollar. If you fall behind in your payments, you can convert your bankruptcy to a Chapter 7.