Missouri Bankruptcy Exemptions

Stay Informed about Bankruptcy Exemptions in Missouri

When a debtor files bankruptcy, there are laws that protect them. One of these protections is that creditors cannot take certain property from the person filing for bankruptcy if it is qualified for federal or Missouri bankruptcy exemptions.

If there were no bankruptcy exemption laws, all of your property could be taken and sold to pay off your debts. Our Sunset Hills bankruptcy attorney at Doyel Law knows the best ways to use exemptions to keep your belongings safe. We’ve been helping people file bankruptcy and regain their financial freedom for many years. Call us today!

What is a bankruptcy exemption?

Bankruptcy exemptions are legal provisions that allow individuals who are filing for bankruptcy to safeguard certain types and amounts of property from being taken by creditors to satisfy outstanding debts. These exemptions vary based on the jurisdiction and the type of bankruptcy being pursued (Chapter 7 or Chapter 13). They are intended to ensure that individuals have the ability to maintain a basic standard of living and a fresh financial start after bankruptcy.

When you file for bankruptcy, your assets and property become part of the bankruptcy estate. However, exemptions provide a way for you to protect specific assets from being included in this estate and thus shielded from liquidation to repay creditors. Exempt property typically remains under your ownership and control, even during bankruptcy proceedings.

The types of assets that can be protected and the amounts of protection allowed depend on the laws of the jurisdiction in which you’re filing for bankruptcy.

Federal Bankruptcy Exemptions

Federal bankruptcy exemptions are a set of legal provisions established by federal law that determine the types and amounts of property that a debtor can protect from being liquidated to pay off debts during the bankruptcy process. These exemptions are outlined in the federal bankruptcy code and are available to individuals filing for bankruptcy in the United States.

Federal bankruptcy exemptions aren’t available in Missouri. If you file with your spouse, you can double the exemption amount (with the exception of the homestead exemption) if you both own the property. Also, Missouri filers can use the federal nonbankruptcy exemptions along with the state exemptions.

Missouri Bankruptcy Exemption Laws

Missouri has its own set of bankruptcy exemptions that individuals can use to protect certain assets when filing for bankruptcy. These exemptions determine what property you’re allowed to keep even if you’re going through bankruptcy proceedings.

Here are some key exemptions available under Missouri bankruptcy laws:

  • Alimony and Child Support: Payments received as alimony or child support are often exempt from bankruptcy proceedings.
  • Homestead Exemption: Missouri offers a homestead exemption that allows you to protect up to a certain amount of equity in your primary residence (Mo. Rev. Stat. §§ 513.430.1(6); 513.475). As this exemption was around $15,000 of equity for an individual. 
  • Insurance Benefits: Some insurance benefits, including life insurance, annuity contracts, and disability benefits, might be exempt.
  • Motor Vehicle Exemption: You can exempt your motor vehicle(s) up to a certain value. As of the last update, the motor vehicle exemption was around $3,000 (Mo. Rev. Stat. § 513.430.1(5)).
  • Personal Property Exemptions: Missouri provides exemptions for various types of personal property, which may include household goods, furniture, appliances, clothing, and other personal items. The exemption amount varies for different types of property.
  • Pension and Retirement Accounts: Many retirement accounts, such as 401(k)s, IRAs, and pension plans, are generally exempt from bankruptcy proceedings.
  • Public Benefits: Certain public benefits, such as Social Security, unemployment compensation, and veterans’ benefits, are typically exempt.
  • Tools of Trade: If you have tools, equipment, or materials that are necessary for your trade or occupation, you may be able to exempt them up to a certain value.
  • Wildcard Exemption: The wildcard exemption allows you to protect any property of your choice up to a certain value. This can be used to protect assets that aren’t covered by other specific exemptions. As of my last update, the wildcard exemption in Missouri was around $600 (Mo. Rev. Stat. § 513.430.1(5)).
  • Wildcard Exemption for Health Aids: An additional wildcard exemption is available for health aids, allowing you to protect necessary medical equipment and aids.

The goal of bankruptcy is to help people struggling financially get back on their feet by lessening their debt burden, not to strip them of all their possessions. But paying creditors is also an important consideration. Bankruptcy exemptions balance these interests by letting filers keep the property they need to maintain a home and employment, but not unnecessary luxury items.

Almost all states have exemption laws that prevent creditors from taking particular properties. The exemption laws act as a shield, protecting the listed assets from a creditor’s reach both inside and outside of bankruptcy.

​​Do I qualify for Missouri bankruptcy exemptions?

There are two things to consider if you wish to avail yourself of the bankruptcy protections available in Missouri.

Are you qualified to file for bankruptcy in Missouri?

To file bankruptcy in Missouri, you must have lived in the state for over 180 days when you file. If you don’t meet the Chapter 7 eligibility or Chapter 13 qualifications, you can’t file for bankruptcy in Missouri. Talk to your bankruptcy lawyers to see if you can file in your previous state or if it’s better to explore other bankruptcy options in Missouri.

Are you eligible for bankruptcy protection under Missouri’s exemption laws?

To use Missouri’s bankruptcy protection and exemptions, you must have lived in the state for at least 730 days when you filed for bankruptcy.

If you can’t get exemptions in Missouri, you can get exemptions based on the state’s bankruptcy laws you lived in before. But remember, you have to meet the requirements for filing bankruptcy and getting exemptions in that state. 

How to Determine Exempt Property in Bankruptcy

Missouri bankruptcy exemptions work by allowing individuals filing for bankruptcy to protect certain assets from being liquidated to pay off debts.

There are three things you need to do to determine if your assets and property are exempt from bankruptcy.

Step 1: Check your state’s bankruptcy exemption laws.

Missouri bankruptcy exemptions provide individuals with a degree of protection for their property during bankruptcy proceedings. These exemptions allow debtors to keep certain assets, such as their home, personal properties (such as clothing, jewelry, household goods, and appliances), motor vehicles, and retirement accounts, while they work through the bankruptcy process.

Step 2: Check your state’s bankruptcy exemption limits and restrictions.

These exemptions have limitations and restrictions. For example, to qualify for the full homestead exemption, you must have lived in the home for over 40 months before filing for bankruptcy. Some exemptions may have specific eligibility requirements.

The amount of property exempt from bankruptcy also varies by state. Certain items are always protected, such as up to $600 of any property for a single filer (increased to $1,250 for the head of household) and $350 for each child under 21. Real estate exemptions include up to $15,000 in equity for a primary residence or $5,000 for a mobile home.


Other exemptions include up to $3,000 in equity for a vehicle, protection for retirement accounts, tools of the trade, clothing, household goods, appliances, jewelry up to $1,500, and health aids.

Step 3: Consult a local bankruptcy lawyer.

It’s a good idea to talk to a local bankruptcy lawyer to get their guidance on both state and federal bankruptcy laws. This will help you understand how filing for bankruptcy will affect your assets. Seeking guidance from a legal expert is strongly recommended to ensure you have all the important details before deciding in your financial life.

Call our Missouri bankruptcy attorneys today!

It’s possible that declaring bankruptcy will be one of the most important financial decisions you ever make. Without professional assistance, managing financial issues is difficult. You don’t have to deal with creditors alone. Your bankruptcy lawyer can respond to your inquiries concerning Missouri bankruptcy exemptions and assist you in making more educated decisions, thus saving you time and money.

Speak with one of our Missouri bankruptcy lawyers at Doyel Law to get the best legal help in selecting the most appropriate bankruptcy chapter for your financial issues, figuring out when to file, and preserving any assets or properties you wish to save.

Whether you’re filing bankruptcy, addressing family law matters, or creating an estate plan, Doyel Law is here for you.  

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