If a creditor obtains a judgement against you, or if you file for bankruptcy, certain assets that you own cannot be taken from you to pay your debts. These assets are called “exempt assets” or merely “exemptions”. Simply stated, exemptions are the assets that you get to keep from your creditors unless you specifically pledged the asset as collateral on a loan.
If you have lived in Arizona more than 2 years you may protect the following property in bankruptcy.
The equity in your home is protected up to a maximum of $150,000. Each debtor (husband and wife, if married) can protect equity in a motor vehicle up to $6,000. If the debtor can prove a physical disability, the amount protected in one vehicle goes up to $12,000.
The tools, equipment, instruments and books of a debtor, or the spouse of a debtor, used primarily in, and necessary to carry on the business, trade, or profession of the debtor, or the debtors’ spouse, up to a maximum value of $5,000.
Cash on deposit in a single bank account in one financial institution of up to $300 per debtor.
The cash surrender value of life insurance up to an amount of $25,000 if held for over 2 years.
Life insurance proceeds on the life of a deceased parent or spouse of up to $20,000.
75% of earned but unpaid wages, salary, commissions, or bonuses still due at the filing date.
Child Support and Spousal Maintenance payments that are pursuant to a court order are protected.
Certain unemployment, Workmans’ Compensation, and pension benefits (please see your attorney).
Prepaid rents or security deposits of the lesser of 1 ½ months rent or $2,000.
Each person can protect the following household goods up to a maximum of $6,000 total value:
- 1 kitchen table and one dining room table with 4 chairs each.
- 1 living room couch and 1 living room chair
- 3 living room coffee or end tables and 3 lamps
- 2 beds plus 1 for each dependent living at home
- 1 bed table, 1 dresser, and 1 lamp per bed
- Any picture of the debtor, or paintings drawn of or by the debtor
- 1 television set, radio alarm clock, stereo, and 1 vacuum
- 1 stove, refrigerator, washing machine, and dryer
In addition, each debtor can protect the following miscellaneous property:
- Wearing apparel or clothing up to $500
- Musical instruments for a total value of $400
- Pets and domestic animals not to exceed $800 in value
- Wedding or engagement rings of $2000
- Personal library of up to $250
- A bicycle, sewing machine, burial lot, & firearms worth an aggregate of $500
- All prosthetic and wheelchairs regardless of value
- Up to 6 months supply of food and fuel for the debtors family
If you have lived in Arizona less than 2 years, it is important that you discuss what property may be protected in bankruptcy with a qualified and experienced bankruptcy attorney.