Hawaii Bankruptcy Exemptions

Find out what property you'll be able to keep if you file for bankruptcy.

Updated January 18, 2019

You don’t have to worry about losing everything you when filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 in Hawaii. You can protect necessary property, such as a home, car, and retirement account, using Hawaii’s bankruptcy exemptions.

It’s possible that you can protect everything, but that’s not always the case. The bankruptcy chapter you file determines what happens to the property you can’t protect with a Hawaii bankruptcy exemption.

  • In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the bankruptcy trustee appointed to oversee your case will sell nonexempt property and distribute the proceeds to creditors.
  • In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, it works differently. You can keep everything you own, but you’ll pay creditors the value of the nonexempt property or your disposable income, whichever is more, through your Chapter 13 repayment plan.

Find out more about filing for bankruptcy by reading Which Type of Bankruptcy is Right for Me?

Choosing Hawaii Exemptions or Federal Bankruptcy Exemptions

Each state has a set of bankruptcy exemptions, and a list of federal bankruptcy exemptions exists too. Federal exemptions usually come into play when a filer can’t claim a state of residence. For instance, this can happen if the debtor has been out of the country or in the military.

In Hawaii, you can use either the Hawaii state exemptions or the federal bankruptcy exemptions, but you can’t mix exemptions from each list. If you choose to use the Hawaii state exemptions, you can also use any applicable amounts in the federal nonbankruptcy exemptions.

Find out more about how bankruptcy exemptions work, which state exemption system you should use, and the homestead exemption rules in Bankruptcy Exemptions – What Can I Keep When I File for Bankruptcy?

Common Hawaii Bankruptcy Exemptions

Here are a few things to keep in mind when reviewing Hawaii exemptions:

  • Joint petitions. Unless otherwise noted, when spouses file jointly in Hawaii, each spouse can claim the full amount of the exemption (informally called “doubling”) as long as the spouse has an ownership interest in the property.
  • List and verify your exemptions. You must claim an exemption by listing it in the official bankruptcy forms to protect your property. Other exemptions exist, and you might be required to meet unlisted qualification requirements. Consulting with a local bankruptcy attorney is the best way to ensure that you’re adequately protecting your assets.
  • Legal citations. Legal references are to the Hawaii Revised Statutes Annotated or federal law.

Hawaii Homestead Exemption

651-91 - Up to $20,000 or $30,000 if the debtor is the head of the family or is over 65. Property cannot exceed one acre. Sale proceeds are exempt for six months after the sale. Spouses can’t double the exemption amount. Tenancies by the entirety are exempt without limit as to debts of one spouse or reciprocal beneficiary.

Hawaii Motor Vehicle Exemption

651-121 - Motor vehicle up to a value of $2,575.

Other Hawaii Exemptions

Personal Property

651-121 - Clothing; appliances and furnishings needed; books; jewelry, watches, and articles of adornment up to $1,000; proceeds for sold or damaged exempt property (sale proceeds exempt for six months after sale); burial plot up to 250 square feet, plus on-site tombstones, monuments, and fencing.


353-22.5 - Prisoner's wages held by Dept. of Public Safety excluding child support, restitution, and other claims.

651-121 - Unpaid wages due for services of the past 31 days.


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 maximum (amount is subject to change).

88-169 Police officers and firefighters.

88-91 & 653-3 - Public officers and employees.

651-124 - Roth IRAs, IRAs, and ERISA-qualified benefits, if deposited more than three years before filing.

Public Benefits

346-33 - Public assistance paid by Dept. of Health Services for work done in home or a workshop.

351-66 - Crime victims' compensation; special accounts that were created to limit the commercial exploitation of crimes.

383-163 - Unemployment compensation.

386-57 - Workers' compensation.

392-29 - Temporary disability benefits.

653-4 - Unemployment work relief up to $60 per month.

Tools of Trade

651-121 - Tools, books, uniforms, implements, instruments, furnishings, fishing boat, nets, motor vehicle, and other personal property needed for livelihood.


431:10-231 - Accident, sickness or health benefits.

431:10-232 - Annuity contract or endowment policy proceeds if beneficiary is insured spouse, child or parent.

431:10-233 - Group life insurance policy or proceeds.

431:10-234 - Life or health insurance policy for a child or spouse.

431:10-D:112 - Life insurance proceeds if policy prohibits use to pay creditors.

432:2-403 - Fraternal benefit society benefits.


425-125 - Business partnership property.

Add any applicable Federal Nonbankruptcy Exemptions.

Confirming Exemptions

This list includes the majority of bankruptcy exemptions available in Hawaii; however, it doesn’t include all of them. Also, states often create exceptions to specific exemptions, and Hawaii could have changed the amounts since this list was last updated. Consider checking with a local bankruptcy attorney or self-help legal center.

Talk to a Lawyer

Need a lawyer? Start here.

How it Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you

Talk to an attorney.

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you