Today was a pretty exciting day…if you are a bankruptcy attorney in Arizona. In fact, if you are needing to file bankruptcy and you live in the great state of Arizona you should be excited as well. Or at a minimum slightly interested in what the Arizona legislature did.
They raised the exemption limits. When we strip it all away what this means for people in Arizona who are going through the bankruptcy process is that they will be able to keep more of their stuff as they go through the Chapter 7 bankruptcy process.
Why You Need Exemptions
When you file a chapter 7 bankruptcy you are required to list not only all of your debts but all of your assets. Chapter 7 is known as a ‘liquidating’ bankruptcy – meaning that if you have non-exempt property there is a real possibility in a chapter 7 bankruptcy that it could be seized and sold at auction with the money going to your creditors.
However, in Arizona there are laws known as exemptions that protect your property. Most people have heard of the homestead exemption that protects your home, but most are unaware that there are numerous other exemptions in Arizona that protect everything from your car to your bible to your shotgun.
The Big Changes!
Each of the exemptions have a dollar limit. For instance in Arizona the homestead exemption will allow you to keep a home with up to $150,000 in equity. Recently the state legislature updated the exemption laws in Arizona and increased the limits on several of the exemptions. Here are a few of the big changes:
Household Furniture & Appliances
The old law allowed you to keep various household items and even itemized what you could keep. For instance the old law said you could have one couch, three lamps, one rug, etc. Further, the old law said the value of all of your household items could be no more than $4,000 ($8,000 for couples).
The new law does away with the annoying breakdown of specific furniture items and refers generally to ‘household goods’ and even better now includes ‘consumer electronic devices’, so your iPad is safe! Further, the exempt amount has been raised to $6,000 ($12,000 for couples) of value that is protected.
The old law protected your wedding or engagement ring so long as it was worth no more than $1,000. The new law doubles this and protects up to $2,000 of value in your wedding ring.
How long as it been since the Arizona exemption laws where updated? Well, the old law specifically protects your typewriter (thank goodness…what would you do without your typewriter?).
The new law now protects not only your typewriter but your computer as well – with up to $1,000 in value.
For my clients and bankruptcy attorneys all over the state of Arizona, this is the big one. One of the biggest issues in many chapter 7 bankruptcy cases is protecting your car. Under the old law you could have one vehicle with a value of no more than $5,000 (two cars worth no more than $10,000 for couples).
With the passage of the new law you (and your spouse) each get an exemption of $6,000. This may not seem like a big deal, but it is amazing how many cars are worth $5,250 bucks.
Horses, Cows, Chickens, and Your Beloved Fido
Arizona also has an exemption that will protect your animals. The old law protected your critters so long as they weren’t worth more than $500.
I know what you are thinking…my dog is priceless. Well, then you may have a problem with your bankruptcy filing in Arizona.
But if you have a normal mutt like most of us, the new law will protect up to $800 in value.
There are several other amendments. You can check them out by clicking HERE.
In the end, this means that you will likely be able to keep more of your stuff and proceed through the chapter 7 bankruptcy more smoothly.