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Posted by Kevin on November 3, 2009 under Bankruptcy Blog | Be the First to Comment

One of the first questions that a client asks is, can I keep my stuff?  In a Chapter 13, you always keep the stuff you want to keep.  In a Chapter 7, you have to understand the rules concerning exempt property to answer that question.

In New Jersey, we use the federal exemptions in about 99% of the cases  because you get to keep more of your stuff.  Note that if a husband and wife file a joint petition, the debtors get double the exemption.

The basic exemptions are as follows:

  • for your residence, $21,625 (or $43,250 for married, joint filers);
  • $3,450 in value for one motor vehicle ($6900 for 2 vehicles for married, joint filers);
  • $11,525 ($23,050 for married, joint filers) in household furnishings, goods, wearing apparel, appliances, and the like;
  • $1450 ($2900 for married, joint filers) in jewelry;
  • $1,150plus up to $10,825 of any unused exemption on your residence (double for married couple) which can be applied to any property.  This is known as the wild card exemption.
  • most retirement accounts are exempt.

Besides exemptions, there are other rules which apply to motor vehicles subject to a loan and real property subject to a mortgage.  It is well advised that you consult with an experienced bankruptcy lawyer to answer the questions, “Can I keep my car?“, “Can I keep my house?”

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