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.
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?
Here are some of the more common exemptions in South Carolina. When reviewing them, you'll want to keep these things in mind:
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.
15-41-30(A)(2) – Up to $6,100 of equity in one motor vehicle.
15-41-30(A)(7) – Up to $6,100 in unused exemption amounts to use toward any property of your choosing.
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.
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
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.
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.
33-41-720 - Business partnership property.
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 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.