South Carolina Bankruptcy Exemptions

You can protect property in a South Carolina bankruptcy by using the South Carolina bankruptcy exemption laws.

January 30, 2019

You won’t lose everything when filing for bankruptcy in South Carolina. You’ll be able to use South Carolina’s bankruptcy exemptions to protect property you’ll need to work and live, like your home, personal items, and a retirement account.

Find out more about filing a South Carolina bankruptcy case.

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

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?

Common South Carolina Bankruptcy Exemptions

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

  • Joint filing. Unless otherwise noted, when spouses file together in South Carolina, 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 South Carolina Code of Laws or the federal law.

South Carolina Homestead Exemption

15-41-30(A)(1) - A single filer or surviving spouse can claim up to $60,975 of equity in a homestead or burial plot (see below). Spouses filing jointly can double the exemption to $121,950.

South Carolina Motor Vehicle Exemption

15-41-30(A)(2) – Up to $6,100 of equity in one motor vehicle.

South Carolina Wildcard Exemption

15-41-30(A)(7) – Up to $6,100 in unused exemption amounts to use toward any property of your choosing.

Other South Carolina Exemptions

Personal Property

15-41-30 - Clothing, household goods, furnishings, appliances, books, musical instruments, animals and crops up to $4,875 total; jewelry up to $1,225; health aids; personal injury and wrongful death recoveries for person you depended on for support; three guns (rifle, shotgun, pistol) up to $3,000.

15-41-30 - Burial plot up to $60,975 (instead of the homestead exemption).

59-2-140 - College investment program trust fund.

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).

9-1-1680 - Public employees.

9-8-190 - Judges and solicitors.

9-9-180 - General assembly members.

9-11-270 - Police officers.

9-13-230 - Firefighters.

15-41-30(10)(E)(14) - ERISA-qualified benefits

15-41-30(A)(13) - Roth IRAs and IRAs

Public Benefits

15-41-30 - Unemployment compensation; Social Security; veterans' benefits; local public assistance; crime victims' compensation.

42-9-360 - Workers' compensation.

43-5-190 - General relief; aid to blind, aged, and disabled.

Tools of Trade

15-41-30 - Tools, books, and implements of trade up to $1,825.

Alimony and Child Support

15-41-30 - Alimony and child support.

Insurance

15-41-30 - Unmatured life insurance contract (a credit insurance policy is not exempt); disability or illness benefits; life insurance proceeds from a policy for a person you depended upon which is needed for support; life insurance dividends, interest, loan, cash, or surrender value from a policy for a person you depended upon up to $4,875.

38-38-330 - Fraternal benefit society benefits.

38-63-40 - Accident and disability benefits; Group life insurance proceeds' cash value not to exceed a particular amount (check statute); Life insurance proceeds for a spouse or child if purchased 2 years before filing for bankruptcy.

38-63-50 - Life insurance proceeds if policy prohibits it being used to pay creditors.

38-65-90 – Up to $50,000 in life insurance for debtor’s spouse and dependents.

Other

33-41-720 - Business partnership property.

Add any applicable federal nonbankruptcy exemptions.

Nonexempt Property—Property You Can’t Protect With a South Carolina 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 South Carolina Exemptions

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

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