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Can I Keep My Assets if I File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

Can I Keep My Assets if I File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

Can I Keep my Assets if I File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

If you seem to be falling behind on your bills constantly, filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Wisconsin may beassets in Chapter 7 bankruptcy the answer.  Don’t let the fear of losing your home, your car, your retirement accounts, or your personal property keep you from seeking relief in Chapter 7 bankruptcy.  The vast majority of Chapter 7 cases filed in Wisconsin are what are referred to as “no-asset” cases, meaning there are no assets in the case that the bankruptcy trustee can sell to pay creditors.

Filing Chapter 7: You Are Required To List All Your Assets

It is true, that when you file for relief with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy you are required to list all your assets.  Your assets include your house, vehicles, bank accounts, retirement accounts, and personal property.  Your assets also include items you might not expect such as inheritances, injury claims, life insurance, tax refunds, and interests in a business.  Because forgetting to list an asset may cause you to lose that asset, it is extremely important to meet with an experienced bankruptcy attorney who will take the time to go over all potential assets you may have to make sure nothing is overlooked and all assets are properly disclosed and that the appropriate exemption is used to protect your assets.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Exemptions in Wisconsin: Ability to Choose

Wisconsin is one of the few states where, in most cases, you can choose between state and federal exemptions when declaring bankruptcy. This allows you the flexibility to choose the set of exemptions that best fit your circumstances. It also means that it is very uncommon to lose assets in a Chapter 7 filed in Wisconsin.  Our attorneys can help you decide between state and federal exemptions to best protect you and your family’s assets.

Wisconsin Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Exemptions

Under Wisconsin state law, you can exempt:

  • $75,000 of the equity of your primary residence ($150,000 for a married couple)
  • $4,000 motor vehicle exemption, plus the unused amount from consumer goods exemption 
  • $12,000 consumer goods exemption ($24,000 for a married couple)
  • $5,000 in checking and savings accounts ($10,000 for a married couple)
  • $50.000 personal injury award exemption
  • All money in most retirement accounts

Chapter 7 Federal Exemptions in Wisconsin

Federal exemptions are a little trickier to understand. Therefore, you must work with an experienced professional. Like the state exemptions, they can usually be doubled if you are married. Generally, you can take a:

  • $27,900 for your primary residence ($55,800 for a married couple)
  • $4,450 (plus unused wildcard exemption) for a motor vehicle ($8,900 for a married couple)
  • $14,875 aggregate value for household goods and furnishings
  • $15,425 federal wildcard exemption to exempt any property of your choosing ($1,475 plus up to $13,950 of any unused portion of the federal homestead exemption)

Under federal law, in most cases you can keep all your: Social Security Benefits, Retirement Accounts, Unemployment Benefits, Child Support, and Veteran’s Benefits.

Final Thoughts

The ability to choose between Federal and Wisconsin exemptions means that the vast majority of Chapter 7 cases filed in Wisconsin are “no-asset” cases.  It is still extremely important to meet with an experienced bankruptcy attorney to go over all potential assets you may have to make sure nothing is overlooked and all assets are properly disclosed and the appropriate exemption is used to protect your assets.

 

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