During the bankruptcy process, you are allowed to file exemptions to keep your property. After the bankruptcy trustee receives a list of your debts and assets, a choice will be made as to which list of exemptions, either state or federal, you will be allowed to use. In the event that your case is found to contain nonexempt assets, the bankruptcy trustee will begin to acquire all of those assets and allow creditors to file claims against them. Depending on which exemptions list you use, you may not have any nonexempt property.
A quick look at any state versus federal exempt property list will give you a pretty good idea of what you stand to keep in both situations. One of the first and main differences is that exemptions offered through the federal list are per person while exemptions offered through the state’s list are per household. Individuals using the federal exemptions list may only exempt a certain value of property used in a residence. Individuals using the state exemption list can enjoy a no limit property exemption.
Other personal property such as jewelry, tools, clothing and sporting goods are also considered exempt under the state list. The state’s exemption list also allows for one vehicle per licensed driver to be exempt, while the federal list allows filers to keep one vehicle per debtor listed in the petition.
Most federal and state bankruptcy exemption lists only scratch the surface of total exemptions allowed during bankruptcy. For a more comprehensive list of exemptions and explanation of which list you will be required to use, speaking to a bankruptcy attorney may help.