The heart of a bankruptcy case is the use of “exemptions” to protect the debtor’s property. To put it another way, people file bankruptcy cases with attorneys in order for the attorney to protect their property from being taken by the bankruptcy trustee. The exemptions are noted in Schedule “C” of the bankruptcy petition.
Official Form 106C of the bankruptcy petition is known as Schedule C: The Property You Claim Exempt. The instructions to this section read:
“Be as complete and accurate as possible. If two married people are filing together, both are equally responsible for supplying correct information. Using the property you listed on Schedule A/B: Property (Official Form 106A/B) as your source, list the property that you claim as exempt....For each item of property you claim as exempt, you must specify the amount of the exemption you claim. One way of doing so is to state a specific dollar amount as exempt. Alternatively, you may claim the full fair market value of the property being exempted up to the amount of any applicable statutory limit. “
The exemption amounts are a big deal. These are the dollar amounts which protect debtor’s equity in their real and personal property.
Each State has its own exemptions scheme. Or if the State does not have an exemption scheme, then the State uses the Federal Exemptions amounts. ( 11 U.S.C 522(b)(3))
In California, the State Legislature has opted out of the Federal exemption scheme and has the California State set of exemptions. That are found at the California code of Civil Procedure Section 703 and Section 704. This code sections are mutually exclusive such the use of CCP704 precludes the use of CCP 703. and the reverse is also true.
The California Code of Civil Procedure may be found in most law libraries or online. The dollar amount of protection are updated from time to time. A current chart of many California exemptions is found at https://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/ej156.pdf .
Practice Pointer: The Judicial Counsel form EJ-156 has the most up-to-date exemptions amounts. However the Judicial Counsel form does not contain all the exemptions and exemption amounts. The exemptions in California are adjusted once every three years. The next adjustment is scheduled for April 1, 2022.
These exemption amounts are also provided by bankruptcy software programs. But use the Judicial Counsel forms to verify the accuracy of any exemption amount.