New York Bankruptcy Exemptions

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

Updated January 31, 2019

You don’t need to worry that you’ll lose all of your assets when filing for bankruptcy. New York’s bankruptcy exemptions will allow you to protect the things you’ll need to maintain a household and job, such as equity in a home and car, and a retirement account.

New York Exemptions v. Federal Bankruptcy Exemptions

Some states, including New York, allow residents to choose between the state and federal bankruptcy exemptions. You can’t protect property using both lists, but if you elect New York’s state exemptions, you can use the federal nonbankruptcy exemptions, too.

Common New York Bankruptcy Exemptions

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

  • Joint filing. Unless otherwise noted, when spouses file together in New York, 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 Consolidated Laws of New York or the federal law.

New York Homestead Exemption

NYCPLR 5206(a) – Equity in residential property, including a mobile home, condominium, or co-op, up to $82,775. The amount increases if you live in another county:

  • $142,350 for Dutchess, Albany, Columbia, Orange, Saratoga, and Ulster counties.
  • $170,825 for Nassau, Suffolk, Kings, Queens, Bronx, Richmond, Rockland, and Putnam counties.

New York Motor Vehicle Exemption

Debtor & Creditor 282 – Up to $4,550 in equity in a motor vehicle. The amount increases to $11,375 for a debtor with a disability.

New York Wildcard Exemption

NYCPLR 5205 – Up to $1,150 for personal property (not real estate), a bank account, or cash, if the filer doesn’t use the homestead exemption.

Debtor & Creditor 283 – A debtor who doesn’t use the homestead exemption can exempt cash up to $5,700 or $11,375 minus exemptions taken under 5205, whichever is less.

Other New York Exemptions

Personal Property

NYCPLR 5205 - Clothing, furniture, refrigerator, TV, radio, sewing machine, security deposits with landlord or utility company, tableware, cooking utensils and crockery; stoves with fuel to last 120 days, health aids (including service animals with food), church pew or seat, wedding ring, bible, school books, pictures; books up to $575; domestic animals with food to last 120 days and up to $1,100; wedding ring, jewelry, art, watch to $1,150; spendthrift trust fund principal; 90% of trust fund income if not created by debtor; college tuition savings program trust fund; recovery for injury to exempt property up to 1 year after receiving. Exemptions cannot exceed a total of $11,375 including tools of the trade and limited annuity.

NYCPLR 5206 - Burial plot up to 1/4 acre without a structure on it.

Banking 407 - Savings and loan savings up to $600.

Debtor & Creditor 282 - Lost future earnings recoveries needed for support; personal injury recoveries up to 1 year after receipt; wrongful death recoveries for a person you depended upon for support.

Debtor & Creditor 282(3)(iii) – Bodily injury payments to $8,550.

Wages

5205 - 90% of earned but unpaid wages received within 60 days of filing for bankruptcy; 90% of earnings from milk sales to milk dealers; 100% for a noncommissioned private, officer or musician in the U.S. or N.Y. state armed forces. In re Wiltsie, 463 B.R. 223 (Bankr .N.D. N.Y. 2011)

Soc. Serv. Law 137-2 - Wages exempt from installment payments while on public assistance.

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).

5205 & Debtor & Creditor 282 - ERISA-qualified plans, Keoghs, and IRAs needed for support.

Educ.524 - Teachers.

Ins. 4607 - Public retirement benefits.

Ret. and Soc. Sec. 10 - State employees.

Unconsolidated 5711-o - Village police officers.

Vol. Amb. Wkr. Ben. 23 - Benefits of volunteer ambulance workers.

Vol. Fire. Ben. 23 - Benefits of volunteer firefighters.

Public Benefits

Debtor & Creditor 282 - Unemployment benefits; veterans' benefits; Social Security; aid to blind, aged, and disabled; crime victims' compensation; home relief, local public assistance; public assistance; worker's compensation. Public benefits do not include earned income tax credit (In re Fasarakis, 423 B.R. 34 (E.D.N.Y 2010)) but might include rent-controlled lease (In re Santiago-Monteverde, 2014 N.Y. Slip Op. 08051 (Ct. App. N.Y. 2014).

Tools of the Trade

5205 - Professional furniture, books, instruments, farm machinery, team and food for 60 days, up to $3,400 total; arms, swords, uniforms, equipment, horse, emblem and medal of a military member.

Alimony and Child Support

C.P.L.R. 5205 - Alimony and child support.

Other

Partnership 51 - Business partnership property.

Add any applicable federal nonbankruptcy exemptions.

Nonexempt Property—Property You Can’t Protect With a New York 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 a 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 New York Exemptions

This list includes the majority of bankruptcy exemptions available in New York, but not all. Specific exemptions could have qualification requirements, and amounts might have changed since this list was last updated. Check the Consolidated Laws of New York 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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