February 7, 2019
You won’t lose everything when filing for bankruptcy in Montana. You’ll be able to use Montana’s bankruptcy exemptions to protect the things you’ll need to work and live, such as your home, personal items, and a retirement account.
Some states allow residents to choose between the state and the federal bankruptcy exemptions, but that option isn’t available in Montana. You’ll use Montana’s state exemptions and, if helpful, the federal nonbankruptcy exemptions.
Here are some of the more common exemptions in Montana. When reviewing them, you’ll want to keep these things in mind:
70-32-104 & 25-13-615 – Equity in real estate or mobile home you occupy up to a value of $250,000. The exemption is limited to 320 farm acres, 1/4 acre of property in a municipality, or one acre of property outside of a municipality. You must record a homestead declaration before filing.
25-13-609(2) – Equity in one motor vehicle up to a value of $2,500.
25-13-608(1)(a) - Prescribed health aids.
25-13-608(1)(h) - Burial plot.
25-13-609(1) - Clothing, household goods and furnishings, appliances, jewelry, books, animals and feed, musical instruments, firearms, sporting goods, and crops up to $600 per item and $4,500 total value.
25-13-610(1) - Proceeds for damaged or lost exempt property.
35-15-404 - Cooperative association shares up to $500.
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).
19-2-1004 - Public employees.
19-19-504 & 19-18-612 - Police officers and firefighters.
19-20-706 - Teachers.
19-21-212 - University system employees.
25-13-608(1)(e) - Qualifying retirement benefits (conditions apply).
25-13-608(1)(b) & 53-2-607(1)(b) - Social Security and public assistance benefits (not including support payments).
25-13-608(1)(c) - Veterans' benefits (not including support payments).
39-71-743 - Workers' compensation.
39-73-110 - Silicosis benefits.
39-51-3105 & 31-2-106(2) - Unemployment compensation.
53-9-129 - Crime victims' compensation.
Tools of the Trade
25-13-609(3) - Tools, books, and instruments needed in a trade or profession up to $3,000.
Alimony and Child Support
25-13-608(1)(g) - Alimony and child support.
33-15-513 - Disability insurance proceeds.
33-7-522 - Fraternal benefit society benefits.
33-15-512 - Group life insurance policy or proceeds.
33-15-514 - Annuity contract proceeds (conditions apply).
33-15-511 - Life insurance assigned policies (beneficiary cannot be the insured).
80-2-245 - Hail insurance benefits (conditions apply).
Add any applicable federal nonbankruptcy exemptions.
Some people can keep all assets, but that isn’t always true. Here’s what will happen to nonexempt property:
You’ll learn more about Chapter 7 and 13 in Which Type of Bankruptcy is Right for Me?
This list includes the majority of bankruptcy exemptions available in Montana. However, doesn’t include all exemptions. Also, states often create qualification requirements for specific exemptions, and Montana might have changed the amounts since this list was last updated. Check the Montana Code Annotated 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?