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Exempt Property in Bankruptcy

The bankruptcy code allows individuals who file for bankruptcy to claim certain property as exempt property. States can either use the exemptions in the Bankruptcy Code, or they can "opt out" and use state law exemptions. Ohio uses its own exemptions, and thus, the explanations throughout this site may not be applicable to your state. When property is exempt, it is protected from liquidation by the trustee in bankruptcy. Debtors are able to keep assets deemed necessary for a "fresh start" after bankruptcy.

An attorney at the Ohio law firm of Debra Booher & Associates provides the experience from over 15,000 bankruptcies to help you understand how your property will be identified and handled.

Contact us now to discuss your bankruptcy situation.

Understanding Depreciation and Maintaining Your Standard of Living

A common concern for people contemplating bankruptcy is the loss of a house, car, personal possessions and household goods. The exemptions provided by Ohio law, however, are normally more than sufficient to protect such assets. This is true for a few reasons:

  • Depreciation on used personal goods is significant. Ever been to a yard sale? The resale value of such property is minimal and, hence, does not represent a significant source of funds with which to repay debt.
  • The Bankruptcy Code envisions debtors receiving a "fresh start" by getting relief from debts but still maintaining a decent standard of living. This is the purpose of exemptions — keeping certain property so as to continue living like a normal person. Being out of debt would be pointless if you were left with no possessions to continue daily living!

What Property Is Exempt?

The amounts set forth in exemptions refer to "sale" value not purchase price or replacement value. Also, if the property is encumbered by a non-avoidable lien, the debtor's equity is only that portion of value after the lien is subtracted. Hence, a $10,000 car with a loan against it for $9,000 has $1,000 worth of equity which the debtor may claim as exempt property.

The exemptions available to debtors in Ohio are located at O.R.C.2329.66. However, do not be confused by the language of the code, because the actual application of the exemptions in practice varies. For example, a $100,000 house with a $90,000 lien may appear to have $10,000 worth of equity. In reality, however, this house has little if any equity, because if the debtor attempted to sell, the costs of sale (broker fees, etc.) would consume most apparent equity. Hence, it is wise to consult an attorney about what property can be claimed exempt to determine the best chapter for your needs. You should also consult an attorney in order to stop foreclosure on a home and other actions by creditors.

Contact Our Cleveland and Canton, Ohio, Bankruptcy Lawyers

Contact our law office today. Debra Booher & Associates is one of the leading consumer bankruptcy law firms in northeastern Ohio. Lawyers at our firm have filed more than 15,000 bankruptcy cases for clients throughout northeastern Ohio, including Akron, Canton, Cleveland and Kent/Ravenna.