Like all states, Missouri has its own set of exemptions that you may use when filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Exemptions determine what property (such as a home, car, instrument, retirement account, etc.) you may keep in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and how much you must pay to certain creditors in Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Some states allow debtors to choose between the state exemption system and a set of federal bankruptcy exemptions – but Missouri is not one of them. In Missouri, you must use the state exemptions below. In addition to this list, you may also use any applicable amounts in the federal nonbankruptcy exemptions.
Unless noted otherwise, if a couple is married and filing jointly in Missouri, each spouse may claim the full amount of each exemption. This is informally called “doubling.”
To learn more about bankruptcy exemptions, including how they work, which state exemption system you should use, and special rules for the homestead exemption, see Bankruptcy Exemptions – What Can I Keep When I File for Bankruptcy?
Missouri Bankruptcy Exemptions
Unless otherwise noted, all law references are to the Annotated Missouri Statutes.
Note: Federal bankruptcy courts have held that under Benn v Cole (In re Benn), 491 F.3d 811, 814 (8th Cir. 2007) exemption statutes in Missouri must use the word "exempt" for property to be exempt in bankruptcy. Lower courts have interpreted this to to mean that the words "not subject to execution or attachment" do not create an exemption for bankruptcy purposes .
Many pension exemption statutes in Missouri do not have the words required to create an exemption in bankruptcy. However, Missouri courts, interpreting the same law, point out that Missouri has long held otherwise -- that such Missouri statutes do create an exemption in bankruptcy. See, Russell v. Healthmont of Missouri, LLC, 348 SW 3d 784 (Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District 2011).
The Missouri wage garnishment statute may not be a valid bankruptcy exemption under In re Benn, because the word "exempt" does not appear in the wage garnishment statute. See In re Parsons, 437 B.R. 854 (Bankr. E.D. Mo. 2010).
513.430 & 513.475 - Real property up to $15,000, or mobile home up to $5,000 (joint owners may not double). Tenancies by the entirety are exempt without limit as to debts of one spouse.
214.190 - Burial grounds up to $100 or 1 acre.
513.430 - Motor vehicles up to $3,000 in aggregate; clothing, household goods, appliances, furnishings, books, animals, musical instruments and crops up to $3,000 total; health aids; jewelry up to $500 (wedding or engagement ring up to $1,500) In re Urie, 2006 WL 533514(Bankr. WD MO 2006); wrongful death recoveries for a person you depended upon.
513.040 - Health savings accounts.
513.470 - Wages of a servant or common laborer up to $90.
525.030 - The greater of the following: 30 times the federal minimum hourly wage or 75% minimum of weekly earnings (90% for head of household). Judge may approve more for low income debtor.
11 U.S.C. § 522 - Tax exempt retirement accounts (including 401(k)s, 403(b)s, profit-sharing and money purchase plans, SEP and SIMPLE IRAs, and defined benefit plans).
11 U.S.C. § 522(b)(3)(C)(n) - IRAS and Roth IRAs to $1,171,150.
70.695 - Public officers and employees.
71.207 - Employees of cities with more than 100,000 population.
86.190 & 86.365 & 86.1430 - Police department employees.
87.090 & 87.365 & 87.485 - Firefighters.
104.250 - Highway and transportation employees.
104.540 - State employees.
169.090 - Teachers, see In re Smith, 10-60399,(W.D. MO 2010)
513.430 - IRAs, Roth IRAs, ERISA-qualified benefits and other retirement needed for support.
513.040(f) - Inherited retirement accounts.
287.260 - Workers' compensation.
288.380 & 513.430 - Unemployment compensation.
513.430 - Social Security, veterans' benefits, and public assistance.
595.025 - Crime victims' compensation.
Tools of Trade
513.430 - Tools, books, and implements to $3,000.
Alimony and Child Support
513.430 - Alimony arid child support up to $750 per month.
377.090 - Assessment plan or life insurance proceeds.
377.330 - Stipulated insurance premiums.
513.430 - Disability, or illness benefits needed for support; unmatured life insurance policy; fraternal benefit society benefits up to $5,000 that were purchased more than 6 months before filing; life insurance interest, loan value or dividends that were purchased more than 6 months before filing for bankruptcy up to $150,000.
358.250 - Business partnership property.
513.430 & 513.440 - $600 of any property. If you are the head of your family, an additional $1,250 plus $350 per child under age 21.
Add any applicable Federal Nonbankruptcy Exemptions.
This list includes the majority of bankruptcy exemptions available in Missouri. However, it may not include all exemptions, and states often create exceptions to specific exemptions. In addition, Missouri may have changed the amounts since this list was last updated in June of 2011. Consider cross-checking this list with www.legalconsumer.com, which updates the state exemption amounts regularly, or check with your local bankruptcy court.