Updated By Kathleen Michon
Like all states, Rhode Island 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 Rhode Island, you may use either the Rhode Island 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 Rhode Island 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 Rhode Island, 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?
Rhode Island Bankruptcy Exemptions
Unless otherwise noted, all law references are to the General Laws of Rhode Island.
9-26-4.1 - $500,000 occupied or intended to be occupied as primary residence.
7-8-25 - Consumer cooperative association holdings up to $50.
9-26-4 - All motor vehicles up to $12,000 total; clothing needed; furniture, beds and bedding, household goods and supplies up to $9,600 total (spouses may not double); jewelry up to $2,000 total; books up to $300 total; burial plot; debt owed to you which is secured by a promissory note or bill of exchange; and prepaid tuition accounts.
9-26-4 - Earned but unpaid wages up to $50; wages of spouse; earned but unpaid wages of a seaman; wages exempt for 1 year after getting off relief if you have received welfare prior to filing for bankruptcy; wages paid by a charitable organization; earnings of a minor child.
30-7-9 - Earned but unpaid wages of a military member on active duty.
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.
9-26-4 - ERISA-qualified benefits; IRAs and Roth IRAs.
9-26-5 - Police officers and firefighters.
28-17-4 - Private employees.
36-10-34 - State and municipal employees.
12-25.1-3 - Crime victim's compensation.
28-33-27 - Workers' compensation.
28-41-32 - State disability benefits.
28-44-58 - Unemployment compensation.
30-7-9 - Veterans' disability or survivor benefits.
40-6-14 - General assistance; aid to blind, aged, and disabled.
Tools of Trade
9-26-4 - Working tools up to $1,500; library of a professional in practice.
27-4-12 - Life insurance proceeds if policy prohibits use to pay creditors.
27-18-24 - Accident or illness proceeds, benefits, dividends, interest, loan, cash, or surrender value.
27-25-18 - Fraternal benefit society benefits.
28-41-32 - Temporary disability insurance.
7-12-36 - Business partnership property.
9-26-4 - $5,000.
Add any applicable Federal Nonbankruptcy Exemptions.
This list includes the majority of bankruptcy exemptions available in Rhode Island. However, it may not include all exemptions, and states often create exceptions to specific exemptions. In addition, Rhode Island 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.