Rhode Island Bankruptcy Laws : Rhode Island State Exemptions

Complete state of Rhode Island bankruptcy exemptions laws which protect a debtor’s property when personal bankruptcy is filed.

§ 9-26-4.1 Homestead estate exemption.

(a) In addition to the property exempt from attachment as set forth in § 9-26-4, an estate of homestead to the extent of three hundred thousand dollars ($300,000) in the land and buildings may be acquired pursuant to this section by an owner or owners of a home or one or all who rightfully possess the premise by lease or otherwise, and who occupy or intend to occupy the home as a principal residence. The estate of homestead provided pursuant to this section shall be automatic by operation of law, and without any requirement or necessity for the filing of a declaration, a statement in a deed, or any other documentation. The estate shall be exempt from the laws of attachment, levy on execution and sale for payment of debts or legacies except in the following cases:

(1) Sale for taxes, sewer liens, water liens, lighting district assessments and fire district assessments;
(2) For a debt contracted prior to the acquisition of the estate of homestead;
(3) For a debt contracted for the purchase of the home;
(4) Upon an order issued by the family court to enforce its judgment that a spouse pay a certain amount weekly or otherwise for the support of a spouse or minor children;
(5) Where a building or buildings are situated on land not owned by the owner of a homestead estate are attached, levied upon or sold for the ground rent of the lot upon which the building or buildings are situated;
(6) for a debt due to, or a lien in favor of, the department of human services and/or the state of Rhode Island for reimbursement of medical assistance, as provided for in § 40-8-15;
(7) For a debt heretofore or hereafter owing to a federally insured deposit taking institution or a person regulated or licensed under title 19.

(b) For the purposes of this section, “owner of a home” includes a sole owner, joint tenant, tenant by the entirety or tenant in common; provided, that only one owner may acquire an estate of homestead in the home for the benefit of his or her family; and provided further, that an estate of homestead may be acquired on only one principal residence for the benefit of a family. For the purposes of this section, “family” includes either a parent and child or children, a husband and wife and their children, if any, or a sole owner. The provisions of this section shall not apply to any debt owing to a financial institution, or private mortgages, or a mechanics’ lien on the property comprising the estate as provided for under chapter 28 of title 34. Notwithstanding any other provisions of law, it shall not be necessary to record a declaration of homestead in order to take advantage of the homestead estate exemption.

§ 9-26-4 Property exempt from attachment.
The following goods and property shall be exempt from attachment on any warrant of distress or on any other writ, original, mesne, or judicial

(1) The necessary wearing apparel of a debtor or of the debtor’s family, if he or she has a family.
(2) The working tools of a debtor necessary in the debtor’s usual occupation, not exceeding in value the sum of one thousand five hundred dollars ($1,500), and the professional library of any professional person in actual practice.
(3) The household furniture, clothing, and family stores of a housekeeper in the whole, including beds and bedding, not exceeding in value the sum of nine thousand six hundred dollars ($9,600).
(4) The bibles, school books, and other books in use in the family, not exceeding in value the sum of three hundred dollars ($300).
(5) The debtor’s interest in one lot or right of burial, as the case may be, in any cemetery.
(6) Wages due or accruing to any sailor.
(7) Debts secured by bills of exchange or negotiable promissory notes.
(8)

(i) The entire salary or wages of any debtor due or payable from any charitable corporation, or from any person or corporation engaged in the disbursement or administration of any public charitable fund or money, whenever the salaries or wages are to be paid or supplied, directly or indirectly, from any fund or money appropriated or contributed for the relief of the poor or in aid of unemployment, and the debtor is the object of the relief or aid.
(ii) The entire wages or salary of any debtor due or payable from any employer, where the debtor has been the object of relief from any state, federal, or municipal corporation or agency for a period of one year from and after the time when the debtor ceases to be the object of such relief.
(iii) The salary or wages due or payable to any other debtor, not exceeding the sum of fifty dollars ($50.00).

(9) The salary and wages of the wife and the minor children of any debtor.
(10) Such other property, real, personal, or mixed, in possession or actions as is or shall be exempted from attachment and execution, either permanently or temporarily, by general or special acts, charters of incorporation, or by the policy of the law.
(11) An individual retirement account or individual retirement annuity as defined in sections 408 and 408A of the Internal Revenue Code, 26 U.S.C. §§ 408 and 408A, and the payments or distributions from such an account or annuity, except that this exemption does not apply to any of the following:

(i) An order of a court pursuant to a judgment of divorce or separate maintenance.
(ii) An order of a court concerning child support.
(iii) Contributions to an individual retirement account or premiums on an individual retirement annuity, including the earnings or benefits from those contributions or premiums, that constitute an excess contribution within the meaning of Section 4973 of the Internal Revenue Code [26 U.S.C. § 4973].

(12) The right or interest of a person in an annuity, pension, profit sharing, or other retirement plan protected by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, Public Law 93-406, 29 U.S.C. § 1001 et seq. This exemption shall also apply to the operation of the Federal Bankruptcy Code, as permitted by Section 522(d)(10)(E) of Title 11 of the United States Code, 11 U.S.C. § 522(d)(10)(E). This exemption shall not apply to the right or interest of a person in an annuity, pension, profit sharing, or other retirement plan to the extent that that right or interest is subject to any of the following:

(i) An order of the court pursuant to a judgment of divorce or separated maintenance.
(ii) An order of a court concerning child support. This exemption shall not apply to contributions to and the earnings of any of the retirement plans enumerated in this subdivision that are not qualified retirement plans as defined by Section 401 of the Internal Revenue Code, 26 U.S.C. § 401.

(13) Any and all motor vehicles owned by the debtor not to exceed an aggregate total of twelve thousand dollars ($12,000).
(14) Any and all jewelry owned by the debtor not to exceed an aggregate total of two thousand dollars ($2,000).
(15) An account balance, right, or interest of a person in a “prepaid tuition program” or a “tuition savings program” as defined in § 16-57-3(10) and (16), respectively. This exemption shall not apply to a balance, right, or interest to the extent that the balance, right, or interest is subject to any of the following:

(i) An order of a court pursuant to a judgment of divorce or separate maintenance;
(ii) An order of a court concerning child support.

(16) In addition to the exemptions herein, a debtor in bankruptcy may exempt an additional five thousand dollars ($5,000) in any assets.

§ 7-12-36 Nature of a partner’s right in specific partnership property.

(a) A partner is co-owner with his or her partners of specific partnership property holding as a tenant in partnership.
(b) The incidents of this tenancy are such that:

(1) A partner, subject to the provisions of §§ 7-12-12 – 7-12-55 and to any agreement between the partners, has an equal right with his or her partners to possess specific partnership property for partnership purposes; but he or she has no right to possess the property for any other purpose without the consent of his or her partners.
(2) A partner’s right in specific partnership property is not assignable except in connection with the assignment of rights of all the partners in the same property.
(3) A partner’s right in specific partnership property is not subject to attachment or execution, except on a claim against the partnership. When partnership property is attached for a partnership debt the partners, or any of them, or the representatives of a deceased partner, cannot claim any right under the exemption laws.
(4) On the death of a partner his or her right in specific partnership property vests in the surviving partner or partners, except where the deceased was the last surviving partner, when his or her right in the property vests in his or her legal representative. The surviving partner or partners, or the legal representative of the last surviving partner, has no right to possess the partnership property for any but a partnership purpose.
(5) A partner’s right in specific partnership property is not subject to dower, curtesy, or allowances to widows, heirs, or next of kin.
§ 9-26-5 Exemption of police and firefighters’ pensions – Assignments invalid.
No interest of any person in any pension fund or in any pension derivable therefrom, for the benefit of police officers or firefighters, now or hereafter created or held by authority of law by any city or town, or by any public officer or officers or board of officers therein, to which fund the city or town contributes in any way, shall be subject to trustee process or liable to attachment on any writ, original, mesne, or judicial, or be taken on execution or any process, legal or equitable; and no assignment of any such interest shall be valid.

§ 12-25.1-3 Confiscation of criminal royalties – Criminal royalties fund

(1) Priority of claims against criminal royalties fund.

(a) Every person, firm, corporation, partnership, association, or other legal entity contracting with a criminally responsible person, alleged criminally responsible person, or with the legal representative or assignee of the person regarding the commercial exploitation of the events and circumstances constituting and/or surrounding and/or motivating the crime or alleged crime shall submit a copy of the contract, within ten (10) days of the making of the contract, to the general treasurer and shall pay over to the general treasurer, within ten (10) days of it becoming due and payable, any and all monies or other compensation which would otherwise by the terms of the contract be due and payable to or distributed at the direction of that person. All rights, causes of action, or other entitlements accruing to any criminally responsible person, alleged criminally responsible person, or the legal representative or assignee of the person for the commercial exploitation shall inure to and be enforceable by the general treasurer for the benefit of the criminal royalties fund established by this chapter.
(b) All monies paid to or recovered by the general treasurer pursuant to subsection (a) of this section shall be collectively known as the “criminal royalties fund.” Except as required for payment of awards under this chapter, the general treasurer shall manage and invest the criminal royalties fund in accordance with § 35-10-11.
(c) Claims against any portion of the criminal royalties fund attributable to a specific criminally responsible person shall have the following priorities:

(i) Claims by the state for costs incurred in providing defense counsel for the criminally responsible person by means of the public defender or a court appointed attorney;
(ii) Claims by the state and its political subdivisions for costs incurred in the investigation of the crime and the prosecution and trial of the criminally responsible person;
(iii) Claims by the victim or victims of the criminally responsible person pursuant to § 12-25.1-4;
(iv) Claims by the state pursuant to § 12-25-26;
(v) Civil judgments in favor of the victim or victims of the criminally responsible person;
(vi) After claims arising under paragraphs (i) – (v) of this subdivision have been resolved and the statute of limitations for the claims has expired, one-half ( 1/2) of the remainder of the funds attributable to a specific criminally responsible person shall be transferred to the violent crimes indemnity fund established by § 12-25-28;
(vii) Claims by other creditors of the criminally responsible person; and
(viii) Claims by the criminally responsible person or persons claiming through him or her.

(2) Claims against the criminal royalties fund shall be made against the portion of the fund attributable to the specific criminally responsible person and not against the fund as a whole. No payment shall be made out of the fund when that payment would be in derogation of claims, either present or pending, entitled to a higher priority under this subsection. The general treasurer may bring an action of interpleader or an action for a declaratory judgment where he or she cannot determine the priority of claims and the proper disposition of funds. Monies in the fund shall not be subject to execution, levy, attachment, or lien except in accordance with the priorities set forth in this subsection. Any party aggrieved by a final determination and order of the general treasurer arising from his administration of the criminal royalties fund may seek judicial review of the decision pursuant to The Administrative Procedures Act, chapter 35 of title 42.

§ 27-4-12 Provision for exemption from encumbrance, transfer, or claims of creditors.
Any policy of life or endowment insurance or any annuity contract may provide that the proceeds of or payments under it shall not be subject to transfer, anticipation, or commutation or encumbrance by any beneficiary other than the insured or the purchaser of the annuity, and shall not be subject to the claims of a creditor of any beneficiary or any legal process against the beneficiary.
§ 27-18-24 Immunity of benefits from process.
The proceeds, avails, and benefits to be paid by virtue of any policy of accident and sickness insurance shall not be liable to attachment, garnishment, or other process, or be seized, taken, appropriated, or applied by any legal or equitable process or operation of law to pay any debt or liability of the owner, insured, beneficiary, or any person who may have any right under the policy; provided, that, subject to any statute of limitations, the amount of any premiums for the insurance paid with the intent to defraud creditors, with interest on that amount, shall inure to their benefit from the proceeds of the policy, but the company issuing the policy shall be discharged of all liability on it by payment of its proceeds in accordance with its terms unless, before the payment, the company shall have written notice by or on behalf of a creditor of a claim to recover for premiums paid with intent to defraud creditors with specifications of the amounts claimed.
§ 27-25-18 Benefits not attachable.
No money or other benefit, charity, relief, or aid to be paid, provided, or rendered by any society shall be liable to attachment, garnishment, or other process, or be seized, taken, appropriated, or applied by any legal or equitable process or operation of law to pay any debt or liability of a member or beneficiary, or any other person who may have a right under a debt or liability of a member or beneficiary, either before or after payment by the society.
§ 28-17-4 Immunity from attachment, process, or assignment.
The interest of any person in any employees’ trust as defined in § 28-17-1 and any pension derivable from that trust shall not be subject to trustee process or liable to attachment on any writ, original, mesne, or judicial, or be taken on execution or any process, legal or equitable; and no assignment of any interest or pension shall be valid.

§ 28-33-27 Immunity of claims from assignment or liability for debt. (Workers’ Compensation)

(a) No claims or payments due for compensation under chapters 29 – 38 of this title or under any alternative scheme permitted by §§ 28-29-22 – 28-29-24 shall be assignable, or subject to attachment, or liable in any way for any debts, except as set forth in subsection (b) of this section.
(b) A lien in favor of the department of labor and training and or the department of human services shall attach by operation of law to any benefits due and payable under chapters 29 – 38 of this title, or under any alternative scheme by §§ 28-29-22 – 28-29-24, to the extent that those payments have been made by the department of labor and training or the department of human services to or on behalf of an injured employee or his or her dependents, but only to the extent that the employee would be entitled to receive benefits under the provision of these chapters.
§ 28-41-32 Exemption of benefits from assignment or process. (Temporary Disability)
Benefits which are due or may become due under chapters 39 – 41 of this title shall not be assigned, pledged, or encumbered before payment. When awarded, adjudged, or paid, so long as they are not mingled with other funds of the recipient, the benefits shall be exempt from all claims of creditors, and from levy, execution, and attachment or other remedy now or subsequently provided for recovery or collection of debt, which exemption may not be waived.
§ 28-44-58 Exemption of benefits from assignment or process. (Unemployment Compensation)
Benefits which are due or may become due under chapters 42 – 44 of this title shall not be assigned, pledged, or encumbered before payment; and when awarded, adjudged, or paid, so long as they are not mingled with other funds of the recipient, shall be exempt from all claims of creditors, and from levy, execution, and attachment or other remedy now or subsequently provided for recovery or collection of debt, which exemption may not be waived.
§ 30-7-9 Exemption of pay and allowances from process.
The pay and allowances due or to become due to any member of the militia for active service, and any compensation that may be awarded for injuries or death sustained therein shall be exempt from attachment, execution, or other legal process.
§ 36-10-34 Exemption of benefits and contributions from attachment.
Any and all retirement benefits and contributions in the state employees’ and municipal employees’ retirement systems shall be exempt from lien, attachment, or garnishment and shall not be transferable or assignable; provided, however, that any governmental agency which may have a claim on money due from one of its employees related to his or her employment in the agency shall have the right to the payment at the time any refund of contributions is made to the member.
§ 40-6-14 Assistance not assignable – Exemption from process.
Public assistance provided under this chapter shall not be transferable or assignable, at law or in equity, and none of the money paid or payable under this chapter shall be subject to execution, levy, attachment, garnishment, or other legal process, or to the operation of any bankruptcy or insolvency law.

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 Rhode Island bankruptcy court statutes.

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