California Bankruptcy Exemptions’ System 1

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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: Jul 15, 2021

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Federal bankruptcy exemptions available? NO

California is the only state that has two sets of state exemptions. California System 1 is similar to other state exemptions. It allows a large homestead exemption and is therefore usually preferred by people who own their homes. System 2 is very like the federal exemptions in that it allows a debtor to use the homestead exemptions for other property instead of for a residence. In California, as in states that allow you to choose between the state and federal exemptions, you have to choose only one option. In other words, you can’t mix and match exemptions from the two systems.

The references to California statutes are to the California Code of Civil Procedure unless other code sections are specified. The amounts in this chart are not the same as the amounts in the statutes because these amounts are now updated every three years by the California Judicial Council. 

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 1
Assets Exemption State Statute
Homestead Your residence, including land and buildings, and personal property such as a mobile home, boat, co-op, condo, or planned development: up to $75,000 for a single person who is not disabled. Up to $100,000 for a family if no other member of the family has a separate homestead. (A married person filing alone can exempt up to 1/2 of this amount if the property is community property, but the full amount if the property is held by the spouses as tenants in common.) Up to $175,000 for a debtor who is over 65 or physically or mentally disabled. Up to $175,000 for persons over 55 if single with an annual income of less than $15,000 or married with an annual income of less than $20,000 and creditors try to force sale of home. Proceeds received from a forced sale of home are exempt for 6 months after receipt. Spouses may not double these exemptions. 704.710; 704.720; 704.730
  You have the option of filing a homestead declaration to protect your allowable exemption or proceeds of a voluntary sale (for a period of 6 months) from attachment or judicial liens. 704.920
Insurance Life insurance (unmatured): all cash surrender value and up to $9,700 of loan value. 704.100(b)
  Life insurance (matured): all benefits necessary for support. 704.100(c)
  Unemployment benefits: all. 704.120
  Health or disability benefits: all. 704.130
  Fraternal benefit society benefits: all. 704.170
  Homeowners’ insurance proceeds: up to homestead exemption amount for 6 months after received. 704.720(b)
  Fidelity bonds: all. Labor 404
  Life insurance payments: all if there is a clause prohibiting the proceeds from being used to pay creditors of the beneficiary. Insurance 10132, 10170, 10171
Miscellaneous Professional or business licenses: all. 695.060
  Trust fund for inmate of prison or correctional facility: up to $1,225. (Married couple not allowed to double.) 704.090
  Property belonging to a business partnership. Corporations 16501-04
Pensions Federal pension exemptions (see federal exemptions).  
  Public retirement benefits: all. 704.110
  Private retirement benefits, such as IRAs and Keoghs: all. 704.115
  Public employee pensions: all. Government 21255
  County employee pensions: all. Government 31452
  County peace officer pensions: all. Government 31913
  County firefighter pensions: all. Government 32210
Personal Property Motor vehicles: up to $2,300 in equity or the same amount in insurance payments for loss or damage. This amount applies to individuals and married couples. It may not be doubled. 704.010
  Appliances, furnishings, clothing, and food: all. 704.020
  Building materials for repair or improvement: up to $2,425 for either a single person or a married couples. 704.030
  Art, heirlooms, and jewelry: up to $6,075 for single person or married couple. 704.040
  Health aids: all. 704.050
Social Security bank deposits: up to $2,425 for a single person, $3,650 for a married couple. If the Social Security funds are not commingled with other funds: all. 704.080
  Other public benefit bank deposits: up to $1,225 for a single person, $1,825 for a married couple. 704.080
  Cause of action for personal injury or wrongful death: all. 704.140(a); 704.150(a)
  Recoveries for personal injury or wrongful death: all needed for support 704.140(b),(c),(d); 704.150(b),(c)
  Burial plot: all. 704.200
  Funds held in escrow: all. Financial 17410
Public Benefits Unemployment benefits: all. 704.120
  Labor dispute benefits from union: all. 704.120(b)(5)
  Worker’s compensation benefits: all. 704.160
  Public assistance benefits: all. 704.170
  Aid for disabled, blind, and aged: all. 704.170
  Relocation benefits: all. 704.180
  Student financial aid: all. 704.190
Tools of Your Trade Tools of trade, including uniforms, implements, instruments, books, furnishings, and equipment: up to $6,075. 704.060
  Commercial vehicle as defined by the Vehicle Code §260: up to $4,850 for a single person. 704.060
Wages Wages paid to the debtor within 30 days of filing for bankruptcy: at least 75%. 704.070
  Vacation credits for public employees. 704.113
Wildcard None.  

Click here to read an Introduction to Bankruptcy Exemptions.

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