A debtor in New Jersey who files bankruptcy may follow either the New Jersey statute or the Federal statute when claiming exemptions. Some of the major exemptions that may be available to a person filing bankruptcy in New Jersey are listed below, with a brief description of each exemption. A lawyer should be consulted to determine the particulars of each exemption and to determine whether it is better to follow the federal statute or the New Jersey statute.

Homestead

  • New Jersey does not provide a homestead exemption for individual debtors.
  • Debtors who own real property as a single married entity are entitled to an exemption.
  • Burial plots are exempt.

Wages

  • If annual income is less than 250% of federal poverty level, 90% of earned, unpaid wages are exempt.
  • If annual income is greater than 250% of federal poverty level, 75% of earned, unpaid wages are exempt.
  • Wages for military personal are completely exempt.

Personal Property

  • All clothing
  • $1,000 in household goods or furnishings
  • $1,000 in personal property, including motor vehicles

Insurance

  • Life, health, and disability benefits
  • Annuity contract proceeds up to $500 per month

Pensions

  • ERISA qualified benefits needed for support
  • Public employees (prisons, police, schools, teachers, street, and water)
  • Disability or death benefits for military members
  • Tax exempt retirement accounts, such as IRAs and 401(k)s

Public Benefits

  • Worker’s compensation
  • Unemployment
  • Old age assistance
  • Crime victim compensation
  • Social security
  • Public assistance
  • Veteran’s benefits

Federal Exemptions may be filed in New Jersey instead of using the state exemption statute.

Do I Need a New Jersey Bankruptcy Lawyer?

Bankruptcy is a very complicated process and filing an exemption incorrectly can lead to that property being seized, even if the property would have been exempt had the exemption been filed correctly. New Jersey allows either the state statute or the federal statute to be used when filing exemptions; each having different assets protected from creditors.

A New Jersey bankruptcy lawyer knows the ins and outs of filing for bankruptcy, and can recommend what chapter of bankruptcy is right for you and ensure that your exemptions are filed correctly.