Should I choose the federal or my state bankruptcy exemptions?

3,723 families have filed bankruptcy using Upsolve. Learn More.

Written by Kristin Turner.  
Updated May 16, 2019

Summary

The exemptions you choose will play a big role in determining how much of your stuff the trustee can sell to repay your creditors. Most Upsolve users select the Federal exemptions, but the choice that is right for you will depend on your answers to two questions.

The exemptions you choose will play a big role in determining how much of your stuff the trustee can sell to repay your creditors. Most Upsolve users select the Federal exemptions, but the choice that is right for you will depend on your answers to two questions: 

1. Does my state allow me to choose? Some states require you to use their exemptions, while others allow you to use the Federal exemptions if you prefer. This list changes from time to time, so the best way to find out what your state allows is to search the internet for "Which states allow me to use the Federal bankruptcy exemptions?"

2.Which set of exemptions protect the things that matter to me? Take a look at what is and isn't protected by each set of exemptions and decide which makes the most sense for your needs. There isn't a meaningful difference for most Upsolve users, but it is worth comparing your State and Federal options just to be sure. Exemptions change from time to time, so the best way to find out what they are for your state is to search the internet for "(YOUR STATE NAME) bankruptcy exemptions."

If you still can't decide, don't worry -- our system will help guide you.

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Upsolve is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that started in 2016. Our mission is to help low-income families who cannot afford lawyers file bankruptcy for free, using an online web app. Spun out of Harvard Law School, our team includes lawyers, engineers, and judges. We have world-class funders that include the U.S. government, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, and leading foundations. It's one of the greatest civil rights injustices of our time that low-income families can’t access their basic rights when they can’t afford to pay for help. Combining direct services and advocacy, we’re fighting this injustice.

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