Like all states, South Carolina 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 South Carolina is not one of them. In South Carolina, 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 South Carolina, 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?
South Carolina Bankruptcy Exemptions
Unless otherwise noted, all law references are to the Code of Laws of South Carolina.
15-41-30(A)(1) - Real property or co-op, up to $56,150 for single owner; up to $112,275 for multiple owners.
15-41-30 - Motor vehicle up to $5,350; clothing, household goods, furnishings, appliances, books, musical instruments, animals and crops up to $4,500 total; jewelry up to $1,075; health aids; personal injury and wrongful death recoveries for person you depended on for support.
15-41-30 - Burial plot up to $50,000 instead of homestead.
15-41-30 - Cash and other liquid assets up to $5,350, instead of homestead and burial plot.
59-2-140 - College investment program trust fund.
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.
9-1-1680 - Public employees.
9-8-190 - Judges and solicitors.
9-9-180 - General assembly members.
9-11-270 - Police officers.
9-13-230 - Firefighters.
15-41-30(10)(E)(14) - ERISA-qualified benefits
15-41-30(A)(13) - Roth IRAs and IRAs
15-41-30 - Unemployment compensation; Social Security; veterans' benefits; local public assistance; crime victims' compensation.
42-9-360 - Workers' compensation.
43-5-190 - General relief; aid to blind, aged, and disabled.
Tools of Trade
15-41-30 - Tools, books, and implements of trade up to $1,600.
Alimony and Child Support
15-41-30 - Alimony and child support.
15-41-30 - Unmatured life insurance contract (but a credit insurance policy is not exempt); disability or illness benefits; life insurance proceeds from a policy for a person you depended upon which is needed for support; life insurance dividends, interest, loan, cash, or surrender value from a policy for a person you depended upon up to $4,500.
38-38-330 - Fraternal benefit society benefits.
38-63-40 - Accident and disability benefits; Group life insurance proceeds' cash value not to exceed $50,000; Life insurance proceeds for a spouse or child if purchased 2 years before filing for bankruptcy.
38-63-50 - Life insurance proceeds if policy prohibits use to pay creditors.
33-41-720 - Business partnership property.
15-41-30(A)(7) - Up to $5,350 for any property from unused exemption amounts.
Add any applicable Federal Nonbankruptcy Exemptions.
This list includes the majority of bankruptcy exemptions available in South Carolina. However, it may not include all exemptions, and states often create exceptions to specific exemptions. In addition, South Carolina 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.