What Can I Keep If I File for Bankruptcy?
Lewisville Debt Relief Attorneys Explain Texas Bankruptcy Exemptions
If you are struggling with more debt than you can handle, it may be time for you to consider debt relief options like debt settlement or bankruptcy. Both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 can help you get out from under too much debt, so that you can have a brighter financial future. Many worry that bankruptcy means they will have to surrender all of their personal property, but in reality, Texas exceptions are generous. Many of our clients find that by using these exemptions, they get to keep most or all of their things.
At Shuster Law Firm PLLC, we understand how difficult the decision to start filing bankruptcy can be. We have been helping clients across Tarrant County and the surrounding North Texas cities through the Chapter 7 and 13 bankruptcy processes for years. A Lewisville attorney from our firm can explain the Texas bankruptcy exemption laws and which of your assets qualify. From there, you can begin looking forward to getting your debt back under control.
What Can I Keep If I File Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Texas?
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a powerful tool you may be able to use to wipe away most of your debt. When filing for Chapter 7, all of your nonexempt assets are liquidated and used to pay your creditors. However, many of your assets are likely to be exempt from liquidation with Texas exemptions.
For those who have lived in Texas for two years, you can generally exempt up to $100,000 in personal property. The exemption cap reduces to $50,000 in personal property for single adults with no families. For a husband and wife filing together, they may apply Texas exemptions separately, meaning they can both keep the full value of the allowed exemptions.
Common examples of items you may be able to exempt from a Chapter 7 include:
- Home furnishings
- Jewelry and heirlooms – up to 25 percent of the total personal property exemption
- Clothing and food
- Tools of a trade
- Sporting equipment and bicycles
- Two firearms
- Household pets and animals
You can also exempt some items regardless of the personal property value cap, such as:
- Social Security benefits
- Insurance policies or proceeds
- Retirement accounts
- Motor vehicles – one for each member of the family who relies on one
While Texas bankruptcy exemptions can be helpful, residents also have the option of using federal exemptions when filing bankruptcy. However, you cannot pick and choose between using federal and Texas bankruptcy exemptions – either you use all federal or all state exemptions. Talk to an attorney about your specific financial situation to determine if using federal or Texas bankruptcy exemptions will allow you to keep more of your property.
What Can I Keep If I File for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?
Chapter 13 bankruptcy works differently than Chapter 7. Instead of liquidating your assets, you will be required to submit a repayment plan to the court for approval. Your proposed plan will outline how you will pay a portion of your unsecured debts (sometimes for pennies on the dollar) over a period of three to five years.
In a successful Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you will be allowed to keep all of your personal property included in the plan. The only exception in Chapter 13 is for property like cars or homes. To keep this property, you can ask the court to “cram down” (reduce) your car loan payment and to “strip off” (get rid of) liens on your home – but only if you have enough monthly income to make both your current payment and a portion of your arrears. You can also use your plan to pay your mortgage arrears over time and get your loan current. By eliminating most of your other debts in Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you have a better chance of keeping your personal property and freeing up money to make future payments.
What is the Texas Homestead Exemption? Keep Equity in Your Home through Bankruptcy
One of the unique benefits of Texas bankruptcy law is the homestead exemption. In addition to the property listed above, you may be able to keep your primary home when you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13. The Texas bankruptcy exemptions for homes does limit the size of the property. Your home may qualify if it occupies ten acres or less in a city. In rural areas, a homestead can be up to 100 acres (200 for families).
However, in order for the Texas homestead exemption to apply to your house, you have to have owned the property for 1,215 days, which is a little more than three and a half years. This is different from the rest of the exemptions, which only require residence in the state for two years for you to be eligible. Get information about the Texas homestead exemption and saving your home from foreclosure here.
Learn More About Texas Bankruptcy Exemptions in a Free Lewisville Attorney Consultation
Get honest and direct answers to your questions about bankruptcy exemptions tailored to your unique situation when you schedule a free review with our firm today. Our office is located in Denton County, but we are happy to represent residents of Frisco, Carrollton, Grapevine and surrounding cities. Call (972) 315-6222 to arrange for a free initial consultation to discuss your legal questions with a Lewisville attorney who is prepared to advocate on behalf of your best interests and rights.
We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for debt relief under the U.S. Code.