Maine Bankruptcy Exemptions

You can protect property in a Maine bankruptcy using Maine's exemption laws.

Updated February 7, 2019

You won’t lose everything when filing for bankruptcy in Maine. You’ll be able to use Maine’s bankruptcy exemptions to protect property you’ll need to work and live, such as your home, personal items, and a retirement account.

Maine Exemptions v. Federal Bankruptcy Exemptions

Some states allow residents to choose between the state and the federal bankruptcy exemptions, but that option isn’t available in Maine. You’ll use Maine’s state exemptions and, if helpful, the federal nonbankruptcy exemptions.

To learn more about bankruptcy exemptions, the state exemption system, and the homestead exemption rules, read Bankruptcy Exemptions – What Can I Keep When I File for Bankruptcy?

Common Maine Bankruptcy Exemptions

Here are some of the more common exemptions in Maine. When reviewing them, you’ll want to keep these things in mind:

  • Joint filing. Unless otherwise noted, when spouses file together in Maine, each spouse can claim the full amount of the exemption (informally called “doubling”) as long as each 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. You might qualify for exemptions not included in this article, or be required to meet qualification requirements. Consulting with a local bankruptcy attorney is the best way to ensure that you’re protecting your assets.
  • Legal citations. You’ll find each of the statutes in the Maine Revised Statutes or the federal law.

Maine Homestead Exemption

14-4422 – Equity in real property used as a residence up to $47,500. The exemption amount increases to $95,000 if the filer is over 60 years of age, has a disability, or has a minor dependent living in the residence.

Maine Motor Vehicle Exemption

14-4422 – Equity in one motor vehicle up to $7,500.

Maine Wildcard Exemption

14-4422(15) - Up to $400 of any property of the filer’s choosing.

14-4422 – A filer can use up to $6,000 of an unused homestead exemption for any of the following: jewelry, tools of trade, personal injury recoveries, or household goods & furnishings, clothing, appliances, books, animals, crops, and musical instruments.

Other Maine Bankruptcy Exemptions

Personal Property

14-4422 - Cooking stove; furnaces and stoves for heat; food to last six months; fuel not to exceed five tons of coal, 1,000 gallons of oil, or ten cords of wood; health aids; one wedding ring & one engagement ring; other jewelry up to $750; up to $200 per item for each of the following: household goods & furnishings, clothing, appliances, books, animals, crops, and musical instruments; lost earnings payments needed for support; feed, seed, fertilizer, tools and equipment to raise and harvest food for one season; wrongful death recoveries needed for support; personal injury recoveries up to $12,500. Burial plot for the debtor or a dependent of the debtor, in lieu of homestead exemption.

37-B-262 - Military arms, clothes, and equipment.

Pensions

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. (This amount is set by federal law. See Federal Bankruptcy Exemptions for updates on this dollar amount.)

3-703 - Legislators.

4-1203 - Judges.

5-17054 - State employees.

14-4422 – Retirement funds up to $1,000,000.

Public Benefits

14-4422 - Unemployment compensation, veterans' benefits, Social Security, and crime victims' compensation; earned income and child tax credits; federal, state, or local public assistance benefits.

22-3180 - Public assistance.

26-1411-H - Maintenance under the Rehabilitation Act.

39-A-106 - Workers' compensation.

Tools of Trade

14-4422 - Books, materials, and stock up to $5,000; one of each type of farm implement necessary to raise and harvest crops; one boat not to exceed five tons used in commercial fishing.

Alimony and Child Support

14-4422 - Alimony and child support needed for support.

Insurance

14-4422 - Unmatured life insurance policy (except credit insurance); matured life insurance policy, dividends, interest, or loan value for a person you depended on up to $4,000.

24-A-2428 - Life, annuity, accident, or endowment policy, proceeds, dividends, interest, loan, cash, or surrender value.

24-A-2429 - Disability or health insurance proceeds, avails or benefits.

24-A-2430 - Group life or health policy or proceeds.

24-A-2431 - Annuity proceeds up to $450 per month.

24-A-4118 - Fraternal benefit society benefits.

25-1612 - Death benefits for police, fire, or emergency medical personnel who lose their lives in the line of duty.

Other

Add any applicable federal nonbankruptcy exemptions.

Nonexempt Property—Property You Can’t Protect With a Maine Exemption

Some people can keep all assets, but that isn’t always true. Here’s what will happen to nonexempt property:

  • In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the bankruptcy trustee appointed to administer your case will sell nonexempt property and distribute the proceeds to creditors. Find out more about the bankruptcy process and the Chapter 7 documents you'll need at each stage.
  • In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, it works differently. You can keep everything you own, but you’ll pay creditors the value of the nonexempt property, your disposable income, or your nondischargeable debt (support obligations, most taxes, and the like), whichever is more, through your Chapter 13 repayment plan.

You’ll learn more about Chapter 7 and 13 in Which Type of Bankruptcy is Right for Me?

Confirming Maine Exemptions

This list includes the majority of bankruptcy exemptions available in Maine. However, doesn’t include all exemptions. Also, states often create qualification requirements for specific exemptions, and Maine might have changed the amounts since this list was last updated. Check the Maine Revised Statutes or with a local bankruptcy lawyer.

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