January 20, 2017
Like all states, Missouri has its own set of exemptions that you can use when filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Exemptions determine what property (such as a home, car, instrument, retirement account, etc.) you can 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 Missouri is not one of them. In Missouri, 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 Missouri, 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?
Unless otherwise noted, all law references are to the Missouri Revised Statutes (Mo. Rev. Stat.).
It's important to note that federal bankruptcy courts have held that exemption statutes in Missouri must use the word "exempt" for property to be exempt in bankruptcy; however, other Missouri courts, interpreting the same law, point out that Missouri has long held otherwise. See, Benn v. Cole (In re Benn), 491 F.3d 811, 814 (8th Cir. 2007); Russell v. Healthmont of Missouri, LLC, 348 SW 3d 784 (Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District 2011).
To ensure the protection of your property, contact a local bankruptcy attorney familiar with the practices in your area.
513.430.1(6) & 513.475 - Real property up to $15,000, or mobile home up to $5,000 (joint owners may not double). Tenancies by the entirety are exempt without limit as to debts of one spouse.
214.190 - Burial grounds up to $100 or 1 acre.
513.430.1(1), (2), (5), (11) - Motor vehicles up to $3,000 in aggregate; clothing, household goods, appliances, furnishings, books, animals, musical instruments and crops up to $3,000 total; health aids; jewelry up to $500 (wedding or engagement ring up to $1,500); wrongful death recoveries reasonably necessary for your support.
513.430.1(10)(f) - Health savings accounts.
525.030(2) - The greater of the following: 30 times the federal minimum hourly wage or 75% minimum of weekly earnings (90% for head of household).
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 $1,283,025.
70.695 & 70.755 - Public officers and employees.
71.207 - City employees.
86.190 & 86.353 - Police and highway employee department employees (also, 86.493, 86.563, 86.780 & 104.250).
86.563 & 87.090 - Firefighters (also, 87.365 & 87.485).
104.540 - State employees.
169.090 & 169.240 - Teachers and school employees (also, 169.380, 169.520, 169.587, 169.690 & 169.780).
513.430.1(10)(e) & (f) - ERISA-qualified retirement accounts; stock, bonus, pension, annuity, and retirement payments needed for support.
287.260 - Workers' compensation.
288.380 & 513.430 - Unemployment compensation.
513.430.1(10)(a) - Social Security, veterans' benefits, and public assistance.
Tools of Trade
513.430.1(4) - Tools, books, and implements to $3,000.
Alimony and Child Support
513.430.1(10)(d) - Alimony, support, and maintenance up to $750 per month.
513.430.1(8) & (10)(e) - Disability, or illness benefits needed for support; unmatured life insurance policy; fraternal benefit society benefits up to $5,000 that were purchased more than 6 months before filing; life insurance interest, loan value or dividends that were purchased more than 6 months before filing for bankruptcy up to $150,000.
358.250 - Particular business partnership property.
513.430.1(3) & 513.440 - $600 of any property. If you are the head of your family, an additional $1,250 plus $350 per child under age 21 and for each dependent with a disability.
Add any applicable Federal Nonbankruptcy Exemptions.
This list includes the majority of bankruptcy exemptions available in Missouri. However, it may not include all exemptions. In addition, Missouri may have changed the amounts since this list was last updated. Consider checking with your local bankruptcy court or local bankruptcy attorney.