What is Exempt Property?
Exempt property is property that is protected by law from the claims of creditors. However, if exempt property has been pledged to secure a debt or is otherwise encumbered by a valid lien or mortgage, the lien or mortgage holder may claim the exempt property by foreclosing upon or otherwise enforcing the creditor’s lien or mortgage. In bankruptcy cases, property may be exempt under either state or federal law. However, NY has opted out of the federal law exemptions. Exempt property typically includes all or a portion of a person’s home equity, motor vehicle equity, household furniture and personal effects.
What Will Happen to My Non-Exempt Property If I File Bankruptcy?
Non exempt property is part of your bankruptcy estate and is subject to sale by the bankruptcy trustee (the debtor is entitled to receive any exempt portion of the sale proceeds). However, even if your property is not fully exempt, you may be able to keep it if you pay its non-exempt value to your creditors in a chapter 13 bankruptcy. Also, you could agree to pay the trustee an amount that would allow you to, in essence, buy back the non-exempt property. The money that you pay to the trustee will be distributed to your creditors. You may also be able to “trade” exempt property for non-exempt property. Essentially, you allow the trustee to take and sale exempt property to avoid losing non-exempt property. There are additional options available. A knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney will be able to assist you with “exemption planning .”
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