California Bankruptcy Exemptions

The charts below contains a summaries of California state bankruptcy exemptions and other relevant statutory laws. California has two systems: the debtor must choose one or the other. Many exemptions do not apply to claims for child support.

Click here for a complete State of California bankruptcy exemptions laws (System 1).
Click here for a complete State of California bankruptcy exemptions laws (System 2).
Note: Federal bankruptcy exemptions are not available.

Personal exemptions allowed by California Bankruptcy Laws

Note: California's exemption amounts are not updated in the statutes. Current exemption amounts can be found on California's Judicial Council website. Exemption amounts are updated every three years (the most recent update is for 2010). These charts list the most current exemption amounts, effective April 1, 2010.

Note: Under the 2005 bankruptcy law, almost all types of tax-exempt retirement accounts are exempt in bankruptcy whether state or Federal exemptions are used. Exemptions for 401(k)s, 403(b)s, profit-sharing and money purchase plans, and defined benefit plans include the entire account amounts. However, with traditional and Roth IRAs, the exemption is limited to a total value of $1,171,650 per person for all accounts held by the debtor (not per account). The total value amount is adjusted every three years for inflation. The relevant statutes: 11 U.S.C. §522(d)(12) for Federal bankruptcy exemptions; 11 U.S.C. §522(b)(3)(C) for state bankruptcy exemptions.

ASSET EXEMPTION LAW
California Homestead Real or personal property occupied by debtor (including mobile home, boat, stock cooperative, community apartment, planned development, or condo to $50,00 if single and not disabled. $75,000 for families if no other member has a homestead. Note: if only one spouse files, may exempt one-half of amount if home is held as community property and all of amount if home is held as tenants in common. $150,000 if debtor is 55 years old or older, single, and earns under $15,000 or married and earns under $20,000 and creditors seek to force the sale of debtor's home (forced sale proceeds received exempt for 6 months after (husband and wife may not double); separated married debtor may claim homestead in community property homestead occupied by other spouse. 704.710; 704.720; 704.730
Wages Minimum 75% of wages paid within 30 days prior to filing. Public employees' vacation credits (if receiving installments, at least 75%) 704.070; 704.113
Automobile Up to $2,725 (any combination of aggregate equity, proceeds of execution sale, and proceeds of insurance or other indemnification for loss, damage, or destruction). Husband and wife may not double) 704.010
Other property Disability or health benefits 704.130
Appliances, furnishings, clothing, and food 704.020
Burial plot 704.200
Jewelry, heirlooms, and art to $7,125 total (husband and wife may not double) 704.040
Health aids 704.050
Tools, implements, materials, instruments, uniforms, books, furnishings, and equipment to $7,175 total ($14,350 total if used by both spouses in same occupation). Commercial vehicle to $4,850 ($9,700 total if used by both spouses in same occupation. 704.060
Wildcard None

Note: Married couples may not double any exemptions

ASSET EXEMPTION LAW
California Homestead The debtor's aggregate interest in real property or personal property that the debtor or debtor's dependent uses as a residence, in a cooperative that owns property that the debtor or debtor's dependent uses as a residence, or in a burial plot for the debtor or debtor's dependent up to $22,075. 703.140(b)(1)
Wages None (use Federal non-bankruptcy wage exemption)
Automobile Up to $3,525 703.140(b)(2)
Other property Disability benefits 703.140(b)(10)(C)
Animals, crops, appliances, household furnishings, household goods, books, musical instruments, and clothing used for the personal, family or household use of the debtor or debtor's dependent to $550 per item 703.140(b)(3)
Burial plot to $20,725, in lieu of homestead 703.140(b)(1)
Jewelry to $1,425 703.140(b)(4)
Alimony and child support needed for support 703.140(b)(10)(D)
Implements, books, and tools of trade to $2,200 703.140(b)(6)
Wildcard $1,175 of any property; unused portion of homestead or burial exemption of any property 703.140(b)(5)

Note: While this reference information is current as of August 2010, it may not reflect the most up-to-date exemption figures on official state of California bankruptcy court statutes.

Back to all State Bankruptcy Exemptions
Go to complete California bankruptcy exemptions laws (System 1).
Go to complete California bankruptcy exemptions laws (System 2).

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