South Carolina Bankruptcy Exemptions

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Bankruptcy Exemptions in Charleston, SC

If you are filing bankruptcy in Charleston, SC you might be afraid that you will lose all your property. However, that is not the case. You do have federal and state property exemptions. This means there are specific amounts of property that are exempt from seizure. This is property that you can keep without worrying about it being taken and sold as part of the bankruptcy proceedings.

Bankruptcy exemptions are important in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies. When you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, exemptions will determine how much of your existing property you are allowed to keep. When you file Chapter 13 bankruptcy, exemptions impact the payment plan. Filing bankruptcy doesn’t require you to give up all your property. There are specific exemptions that allow you to keep specific assets safe.
Specific property, such as a wedding ring or motor vehicle might be included in those exemptions. Some exemptions protect an asset up to a set dollar amount. Wildcard exemptions can be applied toward any property that you own. If you can exempt a particular asset, you don’t
have to worry about it being taken and sold or impacting your monthly payments during your bankruptcy.

How Exemptions Impact Bankruptcies

How exemptions affect your bankruptcy is dependent upon which kind of bankruptcy you file, Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. As a liquidation bankruptcy, Chapter 7 involves the appointment of a trustee who will sell off your assets in order to pay your creditors. The trustee, however, cannot sell any property that you can exempt. Exemptions help you protect property in a bankruptcy filing. In some states, you can choose either federal exemptions or state exemptions when filing bankruptcy. In South Carolina, you can only use the South Carolina bankruptcy exemptions. So, if you file bankruptcy in Charleston, you will use the current South Carolina bankruptcy exemptions, which were adjusted because of inflation in 2016. South Carolina bankruptcy exemptions are expected to change again July 1, 2018.


First and foremost is the homestead exemption. You can claim any equity as exempt in a home, mobile home, condo, co-op, or other real estate used as your primary residence. You can claim up to $59,100. A married couple filing a joint bankruptcy can double that exemption up to $118,200.

Personal Property

The personal property exemption covers different kinds of property. You can claim animals, books, appliances, clothing, furniture, household goods, and musical instruments up to $4,725. If the homestead exemption isn’t claimed, you can claim a burial plot valued up to $59,100. Up to $5,900 in cash and liquid assets can be exempted if you don’t claim the homestead exemption.

You can claim your health aids and up to $1.175 in jewelry. You can claim a college investment program trust fund as an exemption and you can claim personal injury and wrongful death settlements for an individual that you were dependent on for your support. You can claim as much as $5,900 equity in truck, car, van, motorcycle, or SUV for transportation purposes.


Retirement accounts that are tax-exempt, such as 401ks, 403bs, money purchase and profit sharing plans, SEP and SIMPLE IRAs, and other defined pensions are exempt, such as pensions for firefighters, Erisa-qualified benefits, your share of a pension plan fund, general assembly members, judges or attorneys, police officers, and public employees. Every three years the amount you can exempt for an IRA or Roth IRA is adjusted.

Public Benefits

You can claim an exeption for public benefits, including general relief, local public assistance, Social Security, unemployment compensation, veteran’s benefits, workers’ compensation benefits, and aid to the elderly, blind, and disabled.

Tools of the Trade

You can claim an exemption of up to $1,775 worth of implements, books, and other tools used for your profession.

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