Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Nov 12, 2020

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Federal bankruptcy exemptions available? NO

California is often considered the maverick state, and its bankruptcy laws are no exception. California has not only opted out of the federal bankruptcy exemptions, but has also created two sets of exemptions of its own; one set is similar to the federal but not the same. This is California Exemptions-System 2. Most state exemptions give a major advantage to people who own their residences. In both the federal exemptions and California System 2, people who don’t own their homes can use some of that exemption to keep other property. California allows people filing for bankruptcy to use over twice as much as the federal exemptions for a wildcard.

Filers can choose between the two state systems. But they can’t use both systems at the same time. The exemption amounts in System 2 are the same for both single and married people. Married couples aren’t allowed to double the amounts.

Resources:

United States Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District of California

United States Bankruptcy Court, Northern District of California

United States Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of California

United States Bankruptcy Court, Central District of California:

California Bankruptcy Attorneys

California Bankruptcy Exemptions – System 2
Asset Exemption State Statutes
Homestead Property, real or personal, used as a residence: up to $24,060. Any unused portion of this amount can be applied to any property. 703.140(b)(1)
Insurance Life insurance policy (unmatured) other than credit: all. 703.140(b)(7)
  Life insurance contract (unmatured): up to $12,860 in accrued avails. 703.140(b)(8)
  Disability benefits: all. 703.140(b)(10)(C)
  Life insurance proceeds: all necessary for support of family. 703.140(b)(11)(C)
Miscellaneous Child support and alimony: all necessary for support. 703.140(b)(10)(D)
Pensions Federal pension exemptions (see federal exemptions).  
  Benefits qualified under ERISA: all necessary for support. 703.140(b)(10)(E)
Personal Property Motor vehicle: up to $4,800. 703.140(b)(2)
  Furnishings, appliances, household goods, books, musical instruments, clothing, animals, and crops: up to $600 per item. 703.140(b)(3)
  Jewelry: up to $1,425 total. 703.140(b)(4)
  Health aids: all. 703.140(b)(9)
  Recoveries for wrongful death: all necessary for support. 703.140(b)(11)(B)
  Recoveries for personal injury of the debtor or a person on whom the debtor depends: up to $24,060, not including pain and suffering or pecuniary loss. 703.140(b)(11)(D),(E)
Public Benefits Public assistance: all. 703.140(b)(10)(A)
  Social Security benefits: all. 703.140(b)(10)(A)
  Unemployment compensation benefits: all. 703.140(b)(10)(A)
  Crime victims’ compensation benefits: all. 703.140(b)(10)(A)
  Veterans’ benefits: all. 703.140(b)(10)(B)
  Tools of trade such as tools, instruments, and books: up to $7,175 total. 703.140(b)(6)
Wages No exemption. (Federal nonbankruptcy wage exemption applies.)  
Wildcard Any property: up to $1,280. 703.140(b)(5)
  Any property: unused part of homestead or burial exemption. 703.140(b)(5)

Click here to read an Introduction to Bankruptcy Exemptions.