New York Bankruptcy Exemptions

You can protect property in a New York bankruptcy using either New York's exemption laws or the federal exemptions.

Bankruptcy promises a fresh start—and it works. You'll straighten out your finances and keep the things you need to work and live. But "exemption laws" protect essential property only, not unnecessary luxury goods. To prevent a costly property loss, you'll want to learn about:

  • choosing between New York's exemptions and the federal bankruptcy exemptions
  • what will happen to property you can't protect with an exemption, and
  • whether you've lived in New York long enough to use New York's bankruptcy exemptions.

The information below will help. If you'd like to check for other common issues in your bankruptcy case, try using the ten-question bankruptcy quiz—it will flag areas you'll want to look into further. Or, if you'd like an exemption overview, read Bankruptcy Exemptions – What Can I Keep When I File for Bankruptcy?

Filing for Bankruptcy in New York

Bankruptcy is a federal process so it works the same way in every state. However, you'll use New York state law to protect your property. Although most states don't allow filers to choose bankruptcy exemptions, New York filers are fortunate because they have two choices—the state or the federal exemption system. You'll want to review each list carefully and compare it to the property you own because you can't use exemptions from both lists. If you decide to use New York's state exemptions, you can also use the federal nonbankruptcy exemptions.

Our Exemption Analysis. If you have significant equity in your home, you'll likely want to use New York's exemptions. The homestead exemption amounts are far more generous than the federal exemptions. If you don't own a home, you'll need to look closely at the motor vehicle exemption, household goods exemptions, and other exemptions to decide the best list for you. (Analysis is for illustration purposes only and won't apply in all cases.)

Federal Bankruptcy Exemptions

Amounts will adjust on April 1, 2022.

New York Bankruptcy Exemption

Amounts adjust every three years and reflect April 1, 2021 changes.

Homestead Exemption


  • $25,150 individuals
  • $50,300 for spouses who co-own property.

11 USC § 522(d)(1)


  • $179,950 in Kings, Queens, New York, Bronx, Richmond, Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland, Westchester and, Putnam counties.
  • $149,975 in Dutchess, Albany, Columbia, Orange, Saratoga, and Ulster counties, and
  • $89,975 in all remaining counties.

Spouses can double.

C.P.L.R. § 5206 (a)

Motor Vehicle Exemption


  • $4,000

11 USC § 522(d)(2)


  • $4,825
  • $11,975 if equipped for person with disability

C.P.L.R. § 5205 (a)(8)

Tools of the Trade Exemption


  • $2,525

11 USC § 522(d)(6)


  • $10,000

C.P.L.R. § 5205 (a)(7)

Wildcard Exemption


  • $1,325, and
  • unused homestead exemption up to $12,575

11 USC § 522(d)(5)


  • $3,575

C.P.L.R. § 5205 (a)(9)

Personal Property Exemptions

  • $625 per item / $13,400 total for animals, crops, clothing, appliances and furnishings, books, household goods, and musical instruments.
  • jewelry up to $1,700
  • health aids

11 USC § 522(d)(3)-(6)


You can protect up to $11,975 of the following items under § 5205:

  • Stoves and heating equipment and fuel for 120 days; sewing machine, religious texts, family photos and portraits, school books; other books up to $600; seat or pew for religious worship; domestic animals and food for 120 days to $1,175 per person; clothing, furniture, refrigerator, radio, television, computer, cell phone, kitchenware, prescribed health aids; wedding ring; watch/jewelry/art up to $1,175.
  • Property or damages arising from the loss or damage to exempt personal property, for up to one year after collection of proceeds. All property held in a spendthrift trust for a debtor if the trust was created by or proceeded from someone other than the debtor.
  • Uniforms, arms, and equipment used in military service and pensions and awards awarded for military service.
  • Cash and banking account balances to $6,000.

Additional exempt personal property includes:

  • § 5205 - Security deposits held for rental real estate or utilities; service animals; necessary medical and dental accessories; New York State college choice tuition savings program trust fund payments for the benefit of a minor or up to $11,375 of value if you own the account; cash surrender value of insurance policies.
  • § 5206 - Burial plot no larger than 1/4 acre with no building or structure (other than headstone or monument) on it.

C.P.L.R. §§ 5205; 5206

Retirement Accounts

  • tax-exempt retirement accounts
  • IRA and Roth IRA up to $1,362,800

11 USC § 522

Note: Qualified retirement accounts are always exempt under the federal rules regardless of the exemption scheme used.


  • IRA, 401(k), Keogh, or another qualified retirement plan
  • public retirement benefits
  • teachers
  • village police officers
  • volunteer ambulance and firefighters

C.P.L.R. § 5205(c); Ins. 4607; Educ. 524; Unconsolidated 5711-o; Vol. Amb. Wkr. Ben 23; Vol. Firefighter Ben. 23

Available Federal Exemptions

Federal Bankruptcy Exemptions

Federal Nonbankruptcy Exemptions

Where to Find Statutes

United States Code

Consolidated Laws of New York

Dept of Financial Services (for updated amounts)

Other New York Bankruptcy Exemptions

Here are more New York exemptions, but it's not an exhaustive list. As with all exemptions, be sure to check for current amounts and qualification requirements.

New York Charitable Benefit, Injury Claim, and Wage Exemptions

  • Debtor & Creditor § 282 – Crime victims' compensation, public assistance, workers' compensation, unemployment compensation, veterans' benefits.
  • Debtor & Creditor § 282(3)(iii) – $9,000 for personal bodily injury; wrongful death benefits as needed.
  • Soc. Serv. 137-a - 100% of earnings if receiving public assistance.
  • CPLR 5205 – 90% of earned but unpaid wages received within 60 days before & anytime after filing.
  • CPLR § 5205; Debtor & Creditor § 282(2)(d) – Court-ordered alimony, maintenance, or child support to the extent reasonably needed for support.

Miscellaneous New York Exemptions

  • CPLR § 5205 - Annuity contract benefits due if the debtor paid for the contract.
  • § 3212 - Disability, illness, or annuity contract benefits.
  • 3212; Est. Pow. & Tr. 7-1.5; C.P.L.R. 5205(i) - Life insurance proceeds.
  • Partnership 51 – Business partnership property

What Happens to Property You Can't Exempt in a New York Bankruptcy?

It will depend on the chapter you file. In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you lose property not covered by an exemption. The bankruptcy trustee responsible for managing your case will sell the property for the benefit of your creditors. In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you can keep all of your property; however, that luxury comes at a price—literally. You'll pay your creditors the value of any property not covered by an exemption in your Chapter 13 repayment plan.

For example, say you own a car outright worth $3,000, and your state has a vehicle exemption of up to $5,000. Here's what would happen in each chapter.

  • Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. If you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you will get to keep your car because the exemption would protect the equity fully. In the same example, if your vehicle were worth $15,000, the bankruptcy trustee would sell your vehicle, pay you $5,000 for the exemption, and distribute the rest to your unsecured creditors.
  • Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. In Chapter 13, you wouldn't need to pay extra to your creditors through your repayment plan. However, if the car were worth $15,000, you'd need to pay your creditors at least $10,000 (minus sales costs) through your plan.

Keep in mind that these examples don't take into account a vehicle loan. You'll find more information below.

Need Background Info?

Protecting a Financed Home or Car in a New York Bankruptcy

Many people wonder if they can wipe out a home mortgage or car loan and keep the property without paying anything more. The simple answer is "No." Protecting the equity with an exemption will keep the Chapter 7 trustee from selling it, and you won't have to pay extra to keep it in Chapter 13, but there are more steps to take.

First, in a Chapter 7 case, the mortgage or car payment will need to be current. Second, you'll need to be able to continue to make the payment. Why? Because when you purchased it, you gave the lender a property "lien." The lien created a secured debt that allows the lender to take back the property if you don't pay as agreed—even in bankruptcy. So if you're behind on the payment and file for Chapter 7, you'll lose the property. Instead, consider catching up on arrearages in Chapter 13.

For more information, read about how mortgages work in bankruptcy and how to file for bankruptcy without losing a car.

New York Bankruptcy Exemption Timing Rules

It's tempting to move to a state with significantly more generous bankruptcy exemptions when filing for bankruptcy. But it doesn't work that way. To prevent people from abusing the system, filers must live in the state for at least two years—otherwise, they must use the previous state's exemptions. Here's how it works.

  • If you've made your permanent home (your "domicile") in your current state for at least two years, you can use the state's exemptions (or the federal exemptions if allowed).
  • If your domicile hasn't been in the same state for two years, the rules get more complicated, so prepare yourself. In fact, it sounds so strange we'll explain it in three different ways so you know you didn't read it wrong. Here goes: You'll choose the state that you lived in the longest during the 180 days immediately before the two years before filing.

Did you get that? If not, here's a way to figure it out. Count back two-and-a-half years. Then ask yourself where you lived the longest during the first six months of that two-and-a-half-year period.

Still confused? Let's try an example. Suppose you planned to file on January 1, 2022. Your two-and-a-half-year period would start July 1, 2019, and you'd qualify to use the exemptions of whichever state you resided in the most during the July 1, 2019, through December 31, 2019 period. You wouldn't have to file your case there, but you'd use that state's exemptions. Hopefully, that helps!

Special Homestead Exemption Rules

The homestead exemption protects your ownership interest in your home. You'll need to read your state's homestead statute to determine the specifics, such as the amount of equity and acreage covered, whether the exemption protects a manufactured home, and if you need to file a homestead exemption with the county clerk. But in all states, the property must be your residence. Also, you'll need to comply with a federal timing law—here's the rule:

You must live in the home for more than 40 months before filing for bankruptcy. Otherwise, your homestead exemption is capped at $170,350 if you file on or after April 1, 2019 (the amount changes every three years). This cap won't apply if you bought your home with home sales proceeds from that state.

Find out more in Chapter 7 Homestead Exemption in Bankruptcy.

Navigating Your New York Bankruptcy Case

Bankruptcy is an unusual area because it's essentially a qualification process. The laws provide instructions for completing a 50- to 60-page bankruptcy petition, and because all rules apply in every case, you can't skip a step.

One way to keep track of your research is to use the bankruptcy forms as an outline. You'll find links to the exemption-related bankruptcy forms and other exemption resources in the chart below. You can also look at the list of Chapter 7 and 13 bankruptcy forms to see where this topic fits in the bankruptcy scheme. And this handy bankruptcy document checklist will help you gather the things you'll need to complete the petition.

Bankruptcy Exemption Information

Bankruptcy Forms

Schedule A/B: Property

Schedule C: The Property You Claim as Exempt

Statement of Intention for Individuals

Related Information

What Happens to Your Property in Bankruptcy?

The Motor Vehicle Exemption

The Wildcard Exemption

Chapter 7 Homestead Exemption

Exemptions in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Need More Info?

We want to help you find the answers you need. Go to TheBankruptcySite for more easy-to-understand bankruptcy articles, or consider buying a self-help book like The New Bankruptcy by Attorney Cara O'Neill.

We wholeheartedly encourage research and learning, but online articles can't address all bankruptcy issues or the facts of your case. The best way to protect your assets in bankruptcy is by consulting with a local bankruptcy lawyer.

Updated September 17, 2021

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