Like all states, New Jersey 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.
In New Jersey, you may use either the New Jersey state exemptions (listed below), or the federal bankruptcy exemptions (you can find these in Federal Bankruptcy Exemptions). You cannot mix and match from each list. If you choose to use the New Jersey state exemptions, you may also use any applicable amounts in the federal nonbankruptcy exemptions.
Unless noted otherwise, if a couple is married and filing jointly in New Jersey, 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?
New Jersey Bankruptcy Exemptions
Unless otherwise noted, all law references are to the New Jersey Statutes Annotated.
None. However, survivorship interest of spouse in property held as tenancy by the entirety is exempt from creditors of the other spouse.
2A:17-19 - Clothing; goods, personal property, and stock or interest in corporations up to $1,000 total.
2A:26-4 - Household good and furniture up to $1,000.
45:27-21 - Burial plots.
2A:17-56 - 90% of earned but unpaid wages if your annual income is less than 250% of the federal poverty level. If income is higher, 75%.
38A:4-8 Military personnel wages and allowances.
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.
A:9-57.6 - Civil defense workers.
18A:66-51 - Teachers.
18A:66-116 - School district employees.
25:2-1 - Trust containing personal property if it was created pursuant to federal tax law.
43:6A-41 - Judges.
43:7-13 - Prison employees.
43:8A-20 - Alcohol beverage control officers.
43:10-57 & 43:10-105 - County employees.
43:13-9 - City workers' ERISA-qualified benefits.
43:13-44 - Municipal employees.
43:15A-53 - Public employees.
43:16-7 & 43:16A-17 - Police officers, firefighters, and traffic officers.
43:18-12 - City boards of health employees.
43:19-17 - Street and water department employees.
53:5A-45 - State police.
34:15-29 - Workers' compensation.
43:21-53 - Unemployment compensation.
44:7-35 - Old-age, permanent disability assistance.
A:9-57.6 - Civil defense workers' disability, death, medical or hospital benefits.
17:18-12 & 17B:24-8 - Health and disability benefits.
17B:24-6b - Life insurance proceeds, dividends, interest, loan, cash, or surrender value, if not the insured.
17B:24-7 - Annuity contract proceeds up to $500 per month.
17B:24-9 - Group life or health policy or proceeds.
17B:24-10 - Life insurance proceeds if policy prohibits use to pay creditors.
38A:4-8 - Military member disability or death benefits.
Add any applicable Federal Nonbankruptcy Exemptions.
This list includes the majority of bankruptcy exemptions available in New Jersey. However, it may not include all exemptions, and states often create exceptions to specific exemptions. In addition, New Jersey 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.