Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Bankruptcy Law: State Laws on Property Exempt from Bankruptcy

The law of bankruptcy in the United States is governed primarily by federal law. Specialized federal bankruptcy courts hear bankruptcy cases and related proceedings.


The bankruptcy laws provide certain exemptions from distribution of the debtor's estate to creditors. Many states allow a homestead  exemption, which permits a debtor to protect some or all of the equity in her home. Property other than the debtor's primary residence may also be exempted from the bankruptcy estate, including automobiles and certain personal property. Some state laws protect exempt property up to a certain dollar value, while others protect up to the full value of property eligible for exemption (see treatises cited below for exemptions in every state)..

The type and value of property that can be exempted is generally determined by specified domicile requirements which determine the jurisdiction of the bankruptcy estate. The federal bankruptcy law also sets out bankruptcy exemptions that can be claimed. Under some state statutes, a debtor has the option to choose either the federal or state set of exemptions.

Other state and federal laws provide for returning to the bankruptcy estate any property the debtor is found to have fraudulently transferred to someone else in order to keep it from creditors.

See Hon. William Houston Brown et al., Bankruptcy Exemption Manual , Appendix A, Summary Table of Common State Exemptions, and Appendix B, Comprehensive Tables of State Exemptions B33.-  (2019) (Westlaw username & password required).

New York Laws

New York has enacted legislation “opting out” of the federal exemption scheme (N.Y. Debt. & Cred. Law § 282). Therefore, New York debtors are only permitted to exempt property under state law (N.Y. C.P.L.R. § 5205) or under a federal law other than the bankruptcy exemptions statute, 11 U.S.C. § 522(d).

See also:

13 Collier on Bankruptcy § 1.NY, Checklist of  New York Exemptions (16th ed. 2019) (Lexis+ username & password required).

Connecticut Laws

Connecticut debtors have the choice of either the Connecticut statutory exemptions (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-352 et seq.) or the federal exemption in 11 U.S.C. § 522(d).

See also:

13 Collier on Bankruptcy § 1.CT, Checklist of Connecticut Exemptions (16th ed. 2019) (Lexis+ username & password required).

New Jersey Laws

New Jersey debtors have the choice of either the New Jersey statutory exemptions (N.J. Stat. Ann. 2A:17-19, 2A:26-4 and 38A:4-8) or the federal exemptions in 11 U.S.C. § 522(d).

See also:

13 Collier on Bankruptcy  § 1.NJ, Checklist of New Jersey Exemptions (16th ed. 2019) (Lexis+ username & password required).