Property You Can Keep In Bankruptcy

In a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case, all of a Debtor’s non-exempt property becomes the property of the bankruptcy estate at the time of filing and may be sold by the bankruptcy trustee. The sale proceeds are then distributed among the Debtor’s creditors.

In a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Case, Debtors are generally permitted to retain all of their assets.

What Is Exempt Property?

Exempt property is protected property. Under Federal and State exemption laws, certain assets are protected from collection by Creditors and from a Bankruptcy Trustee in a Chapter 7 case. In addition, exempt property is relevant in formulating a Chapter 13 Plan and calculating the required return to unsecured Creditors.

Which Exemptions Apply To Your Case?

An initial inquiry for all individuals contemplating bankruptcy is “Which State’s exemptions apply to my case?” Exemptions which apply to a Debtor’s case are based on the law of the State where the debtor was domiciled for the 730 days (2 years) prior to the date of filing the bankruptcy case. If you did not reside in a single State during the two years prior to filing, the exemptions are determined by the State where you were domiciled for the majority of the 180 days that preceded the 730-day period. Section 522(b). Section 522(b) also provides that if the effect of the domiciliary requirement is to render the debtor ineligible for any exemption, the Federal exemptions would apply.

What Property Is Exempt In Utah?

The Utah Exemptions Act is set forth at Utah Code, Title 78, Chapter 23. The following is a brief summary of the most commonly claimed exemptions in this Statute. Please refer to the statute for a detailed analysis of the exemption(s) you seek to claim.

Homestead Exemption

The Homestead laws in the State of Utah are presently very favorable to Debtors. Individuals can claim a homestead exemption in their primary residence in the amount of $30,000 per person, and $5,000 per person if the property is not the primary residence of the individual. The homestead exemption is applied to home equity. Home equity is computed by deducting from the fair market value of the real property, the amounts of all outstanding mortgages and loans against such real property.

Example: Your home is worth $100,000.00 and you have a first mortgage against your home in the amount of $40,000.00, and a home equity line of credit with a balance of $20,000.00. You therefore have $40,000.00 of equity in your home. If you are an individual debtor, your equity would not be fully exempt, and a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Trustee could sell your property and distribute the sale proceeds among your Creditors. In this case, you should file Chapter 13. If you are filing jointly with your spouse and your spouse is named on the deed as joint owner, the full $40,000.00 equity in your home would be exempt and you may file Chapter 7 without losing your home.

The full text of the Utah homestead exemption law is set forth at Utah Code Section 78b 5-503 and 504.

Vehicle Exemption

Each individual is entitled to an exemption for one motor vehicle not exceeding $3,000 in value. If you are filing jointly with your spouse and you share one vehicle, you can each assert the vehicle exemption against the same vehicle. If the equity in the vehicle you share is not more than $6,000.00, it would be protected from bankruptcy. The vehicle exemption is applicable to motorcycles if the motorcycle is your primary means of transportation. (Also see UCA Section 78B-5-506(3).)

Property Exempt From Execution

FOLLOWING IS THE EXACT TEXT FROM UTAH CODE SECTION 78B-5-505 “Property Exempt from Execution”. (Exemptions with dollar limitations are set forth at Utah Code 78B-5-506 listed at the end of this section.)

  • An individual is entitled to exemption of the following property:
    • a burial plot for the individual and the individual’s family;
    • health aids reasonably necessary to enable the individual or a dependent to work or sustain health;
    • benefits the individual or the individual’s dependent have received or are entitled to receive from any source because of:
      • disability;
      • illness; or
      • nemployment;
    • benefits paid or payable for medical, surgical, or hospital care to the extent they are used by an individual or the individual’s dependent to pay for that care;
    • veterans benefits;
    • money or property received, and rights to receive money or property for child support;
    • money or property received, and rights to receive money or property for alimony or separate maintenance, to the extent reasonably necessary for the support of the individual and the individual’s dependents;
      • one:
        • clothes washer and dryer;
        • refrigerator;
        • freezer;
        • stove;
        • microwave oven; and
        • sewing machine;
      • all carpets in use;
      • provisions sufficient for 12 months actually provided for individual or family use;
      • all wearing apparel of every individual and dependent, not including jewelry or furs; and
      • all beds and bedding for every individual or dependent;
    • except for works of art held by the debtor as part of a trade or business, works of art:
      • depicting the debtor or the debtor and his resident family; or
      • produced by the debtor or the debtor and his resident family;
    • proceeds of insurance, a judgment, or a settlement, or other rights accruing as a result of bodily injury of the individual or of the wrongful death or bodily injury of another individual of whom the individual was or is a dependent to the extent that those proceeds are compensatory;
    • the proceeds or benefits of any life insurance contracts or policies paid or payable to the debtor or any trust of which the debtor is a beneficiary upon the death of the spouse or children of the debtor, provided that the contract or policy has been owned by the debtor for a continuous unexpired period of one year;
    • the proceeds or benefits of any life insurance contracts or policies paid or payable to the spouse or children of the debtor or any trust of which the spouse or children are beneficiaries upon the death of the debtor, provided that the contract or policy has been in existence for a continuous unexpired period of one year;
    • proceeds and avails of any unmatured life insurance contracts owned by the debtor or any revocable grantor trust created by the debtor, excluding any payments made on the contract during the one year immediately preceding a creditor’s levy or execution;
    • except as provided in Subsection (1)(b), any money or other assets held for or payable to the individual as a participant or beneficiary from or an interest of the individual as a participant or beneficiary in a retirement plan or arrangement that is described in Section 401(a), 401(h), 401(k), 403(a), 403(b), 408, 408A, 409, 414(d), 414(e), or 457, Internal Revenue Code;
    • the interest of or any money or other assets payable to an alternate payee under a qualified domestic relations order as those terms are defined in Section 414(p), Internal Revenue Code;
    • unpaid earnings of the household of the filing individual due as of the date of the filing of a bankruptcy petition in the amount of 1/24 of the Utah State annual median family income for the household size of the filing individual as determined by the Utah State Annual Median Family Income reported by the United States Census Bureau and as adjusted based upon the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers for an individual whose unpaid earnings are paid more often than once a month or, if unpaid earnings are not paid more often than once a month, then in the amount of 1/12 of the Utah State annual median family income for the household size of the individual as determined by the Utah State Annual Median Family Income reported by the United States Census Bureau and as adjusted based upon the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers; and
    • except for curio or relic firearms, as defined in Section 76-10-501, any three of the following:
      • one handgun and ammunition for the handgun not exceeding 1,000 rounds;
      • one shotgun and ammunition for the shotgun not exceeding 1,000 rounds; and
      • one shoulder arm and ammunition for the shoulder arm not exceeding 1,000 rounds.
  • The exemption granted by Subsection (1)(a)(xiv) does not apply to:
    • an alternate payee under a qualified domestic relations order, as those terms are defined in Section 414(p), Internal Revenue Code; or
    • amounts contributed or benefits accrued by or on behalf of a debtor within one year before the debtor files for bankruptcy. This may not include amounts directly rolled over from other funds which are exempt from attachment under this section.
  1. The exemptions in Subsections (1)(a)(xi), (xii), and (xiii) do not apply to proceeds and avails of any matured or unmatured life insurance contract assigned or pledged as collateral for repayment of a loan or other legal obligation.
  1. Disability benefits, as described in Subsection (1)(a)(iii)(A), and veterans benefits, as described in Subsection (1)(a)(v), may be garnished on behalf of a child victim if the person receiving the benefits has been convicted of a felony sex offense against a child and ordered by the convicting court to pay restitution to the victim. The exemption from execution under this section shall be reinstated upon payment of the restitution in full.
  1. Exemptions under this section do not limit items that may be claimed as exempt under Section 78B-5-506.

Exemptions With Dollar Limitations

Effective 5/12/2015
78B-5-506. Value of exempt property — Exemption of implements, professional books, tools, and motor vehicles.

  1. An individual is entitled to exemption of the following property up to an aggregate value of items in each subsection of $1,000:
    •  sofas, chairs, and related furnishings reasonably necessary for one household;
    • dining and kitchen tables and chairs reasonably necessary for one household;
    • animals, books, and musical instruments, if reasonably held for the personal use of the individual or the individual’s dependents; and
    • heirlooms or other items of particular sentimental value to the individual.
  2. An individual is entitled to an exemption, not exceeding $5,000 in aggregate value, of implements, professional books, or tools of the individual’s trade, including motor vehicles to which no other exemption has been applied, and that are actually used by the individual in the individual’s principal business, trade, or profession.
    • As used in this Subsection (3), “motor vehicle” does not include any motor vehicle designed for or used primarily for recreational purposes, such as:
      • an off-highway vehicle as defined in Section 41-22-2, except a motorcycle the individual regularly uses for daily transportation; or
      •  a recreational vehicle as defined in Section 13-14-102, except a van the individual regularly uses for daily transportation.
    • An individual is entitled to an exemption, not exceeding $3,000 in value, of one motor vehicle.
  3. This section does not affect property exempt under Section 78B-5-505.

Amended by Chapter 212, 2015 General Session

Evaluating Your Exempt Property

APPLYING THE NUMEROUS EXEMPTIONS PERMITTED UNDER STATE AND/OR FEDERAL LAW TO YOUR SPECIFIC ASSETS CAN BE QUITE COMPLEX, MANY NUANCES AND EXCEPTIONS. YOU WOULD BE SAFER TO HAVE A BANKRUPTCY PROFESSIONAL ASSIST YOU IN THIS REGARD.

DISCLAIMER

NO INFORMATION OR MATERIALS CONTAINED HEREIN ARE INTENDED TO CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE, AND IS NOT APPLICABLE TO ANY SPECIFIC SET OF FACTS, ESPECIALLY AS TO ANY INDIVIDUAL’S PERSONAL SITUATION. THE INFORMATION CONTAINED HEREIN NOR THE PERUSAL OF IT DOES NOT ESTABLISH NOR CONSTITUTE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP WITH UTAH BANKRUPTCY PROFESSIONALS OR ANY OF ITS ATTORNEYS.

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