Updated By Kathleen Michon
Like all states, New York 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 York, you may use either the New York 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 York 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 York, 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?
Special Note: New York’s Bankruptcy-Only Exemption System
New York, along with seven other states, has an exemption scheme that applies only in bankruptcy (which means you can’t use them against judgment creditors that try to take your property in other situations). Several courts have ruled that bankruptcy-only exemption schemes are unconstitutional. Although others have determined the opposite – that debtors may use these exemptions.
Although the majority of bankruptcy courts allow debtors to use bankruptcy-only exemption schemes, you may wish to consult with an attorney to determine what exemptions are permitted in your local bankruptcy court.
New York Bankruptcy Exemptions
Unless otherwise noted, all law references are to the Consolidated Laws of New York, Civil Practice Law and Rules unless otherwise noted.
5206(a) - Real property, including mobile home, condominium, or co-op, up to $75,000, $125,000, or $150,000, depending on the county.
5205 - Clothing, furniture, refrigerator, TV, radio, sewing machine, security deposits with landlord or utility company, tableware, cooking utensils and crockery; stoves with fuel to last 120 days, health aids (including service animals with food), church pew or seat, wedding ring, bible, schoolbooks, pictures; books up to $500; domestic animals with food to last 120 days and up to $1,000; wedding ring, jewelry, art, watch to $1,000; spendthrift trust fund principal; 90% of trust fund income if not created by debtor; college tuition savings program trust fund; recovery for injury to exempt property up to 1 year after receiving. Exemptions cannot exceed a total of $10,000 including tools of trade and limited annuity.
5206 - Burial plot up to 1/4 acre without a structure on it.
Banking 407 - Savings and loan savings up to $600.
Debtor & Creditor 282 - Motor vehicle up to $4,000 ($10,000 if equipped for disabled person); lost future earnings recoveries needed for support; personal injury recoveries up to 1 year after receipt; wrongful death recoveries for a person you depended upon for support.
5205 - 90% of earned but unpaid wages received within 60 days of filing for bankruptcy; 90% of earnings from milk sales to milk dealers; 100% for a noncommissioned private, officer or musician in the U.S. or N.Y. state armed forces.
In re Wiltsie, 463 B.R. 223 (Bankr .N.D. N.Y. 2011)
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.
5205 & Debtor & Creditor 282 - ERISA-qualified plans, Keoghs and IRAs needed for support.
Educ.524 - Teachers.
Ins. 4607 - Public retirement benefits.
Ret. and Soc. Sec. 10 - State employees.
Unconsolidated 5711-o - Village police officers.
Vol. Amb. Wkr. Ben. 23 - Benefits of volunteer ambulance workers.
Vol. Fire. Ben. 23 - Benefits of volunteer firefighters.
Debtor & Creditor 282 - Unemployment benefits; veterans' benefits; Social Security; aid to blind, aged, and disabled; crime victims' compensation; home relief, local public assistance; public assistance; worker's compensation.
Tools of Trade
5205 - Professional furniture, books, instruments, farm machinery, team and food for 60 days, up to $3,000 total; arms, swords, uniforms, equipment, horse, emblem and medal of a military member.
Alimony and Child Support
C.P.L.R. 5205 - Alimony and child support.
Debtor & Creditor 283 - Annuity contract benefits due to the debtor if he or she paid for the contract up to $5,000, if purchased within 6 months of filing for bankruptcy and not tax-deferred.
Estates Powers & Trusts 7-1.5 - Life insurance proceeds left at death if policy prohibits use to pay creditors.
Insurance 3212 - Disability or illness benefits up to $400 per month; life insurance proceeds, dividends, interest, loan, cash, or surrender value if beneficiary is not the debtor or if the debtor's spouse has taken out the policy.
Partnership 51 - Business partnership property.
Debtor & Creditor 283 - In lieu of homestead, $1,000 of personal property, bank accounts, or cash.
Add any applicable Federal Nonbankruptcy Exemptions.
This list includes the majority of bankruptcy exemptions available in New York. However, it may not include all exemptions, and states often create exceptions to specific exemptions. In addition, New York 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.