In all bankruptcy proceedings
certain assets are exempt from being taken, meaning that you are entitled to keep them. These assets
are protected by exemptions
and are defined by the state.
Federal exemptions are not available in Missouri. These state exemptions are automatic and do not require any other qualification. For many of the exemptions listed below the amounts can be doubled if you are filing for bankruptcy with your spouse. However, it is important to note that there are some exceptions to doubling, including the homestead exemption. If you have questions specifically related to your case and want to talk to a bankruptcy attorney in the Metro East, Florissant, St. Charles, or St. Louis
, please contact the A & L, Licker Law Firm, LLC.
Some of the most commonly applicable exemptions
are as follows:
The Homestead Exemption. Individuals filing for bankruptcy may exempt up to $15,000 of real property or up to $5,000 of a mobile home. However, in some cases, where a husband and wife own real property in a tenancy by the entirety, the entire value of a home may be exempt if only one spouse is filing for bankruptcy. To have a tenancy by the entirety a husband and wife must own the property together and must have come into ownership of the property at the same time, by the same deed, and must share complete possession and ownership. Finally, to exempt the entire value of the home to the husband and wife must not have any other joint debt. It is important to note that medical bills are considered to be joint debt in the State of Missouri. This means that if one or both spouse have medical bills this exception does not apply, however, the standard $15,000 exemption still applies.
Motor Vehicle Exemptions. Individuals filing for bankruptcy may exempt up to $3,000, or $6,000 for married filers, for a motor vehicle. Married joint filers may each apply $3,000 to one car, or if you jointly own only one shared vehicle you may apply the full $6,000 exemption to one vehicle. An individual filer may not split the exemption among vehicles, regardless of value.
Household Goods Exemptions. Individuals filing for bankruptcy may exempt up to $3,000, or $6,000 for married filers, in household goods. Household goods include clothing, appliances, furnishings, books, animals, musical instruments, and crops.
Jewelry Exemptions. Individuals filing for bankruptcy may exempt up to $1,500, or $3,000 for married filers, for wedding rings. Much like motor vehicles, a married couple may split the $3,000 exemption between two rings, one belonging to each spouse. Here, the couple may not combine the individual exemptions to one ring owned by either spouse under any circumstance. In addition to wedding rings, individuals filing for bankruptcy may exempt any other jewelry up to $500, or $1,000 for married filers.
Burial Grounds Exemptions. Individuals filing for bankruptcy may exempt up to $100, or one acre, of burial grounds.
Retirement Accounts Exemptions. Individuals filing for bankruptcy may exempt certain tax exempt accounts, including: IRA's, 401(k)s, profit sharing, and money purchase plans. However, it is important to note, that certain life insurance policies and annuities may not be exempt if there is a current cash value.
Tools of Trade Exemptions. Individuals filing for bankruptcy may exempt up to $3000, or $6,000 for married filers, for professional books or tools of a trade. In some cases, a vehicle may fall under this designation, however, using a vehicle to commute to and from work does not qualify under this exemption.
Head of Household Exemption. An individual filing for bankruptcy may exempt any asset up to $1,250 if the filer provides a majority of the income for the household. If a filer qualifies for a head of household exemption he/she may also exempt $350 for each child under the age of 18 living in the household.
Wildcard Exemption. Individuals filing for bankruptcy may exempt any asset up to $600. This amount can be stacked on top of other exemptions to increase the exempt value of a particular asset or interest.
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