Missouri Bankruptcy Exemptions

You can protect your property when you file a Missouri bankruptcy using Missouri's exemption laws.

February 7, 2019

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

Learn more in Filing Bankruptcy in Missouri.

Missouri 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 Missouri. You’ll use Missouri’s state exemptions and, if helpful, the federal nonbankruptcy exemptions.

Common Missouri Bankruptcy Exemptions

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

  • Joint filing. Unless otherwise noted, when spouses file together in Missouri, 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 Missouri Revised Statutes or the federal law.

Missouri Homestead Exemption

513.430.1(6) & 513.475 – Equity in real property used as a primary residence up to $15,000. You can exempt up to $5,000 of equity in a mobile home that isn’t attached to real estate. Spouses can’t double these exemptions. Tenancies by the entirety are exempt without limit as to debts of one spouse in some circumstances.

Missouri Motor Vehicle Exemption

513.430.1(1), (2), (5), (11) – Equity in motor vehicles up to $3,000 in value.

Missouri Wildcard Exemption

513.430.1(3) & 513.440 – Up to $600 worth of any property. The head of your family can exempt an additional $1,250 in any property, plus $350 for each child under the age 21 and for each dependent with a disability.

Other Missouri Exemptions

Personal Property

214.190 - Burial grounds up to $100 or one acre.

513.430.1(1), (2), (5), (11) – Up to $3,000 in clothing, household goods, appliances, furnishings, books, animals, musical instruments and crops; health aids; wedding or engagement ring up to $1,500; up to $500 for other jewelry. You can also exempt wrongful death recoveries reasonably necessary for your support.

513.430.1(12) – Firearms, ammunition, and accessories up to $1,500 value.

513.430.1(10)(f) - Health savings accounts.

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 (amount changes).

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.

Public Benefits

287.260 - Workers' compensation.

288.380 & 513.430 - Unemployment compensation.

513.430.1(10)(a) - Social Security, veterans' benefits, and public assistance.

Tools of the 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.

Insurance

513.430.1(8) & (10)(e) - Disability, or illness benefits needed for support; unmatured life insurance policy; life insurance interest, loan value or dividends up to $150,000.

Other

358.250 - Particular business partnership property.

Add any applicable federal nonbankruptcy exemptions.

Nonexempt Property—Property You Can’t Protect With a Missouri 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 Missouri Exemptions

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

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?

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