A debtor in New Mexico who files bankruptcy may follow either the New Mexico statute or the Federal statute when claiming exemptions. Some of the major exemptions that may be available to a person filing bankruptcy in New Mexico 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 Mexico statute.

Homestead (equity in dwelling used as residence)

  • Up to $60,000 in value
  • Joint owners may double

Personal property

The following property are exempt and are unlimited unless stated otherwise:

  • Books and furniture
  • Building materials
  • Clothing
  • Health aids
  • Tools, and machinery to dig, drill, operate, or repair oil or gas wells or pipelines
  • Cooperative association shares, but only the minimum to be a member
  • Jewelry up to $2500
  • Motor vehicle up to $4000

Tools of the trade

Up to $1500 for tools used in debtor’s trade or profession

Wages

75% of earned and unpaid wages are exempt. Judge may exempt more for low-income debtors.

Insurance

  • Benevolent association benefits up to $5000
  • Fraternal society benefits
  • Life, health, and accident insurance (New Mexico citizens only)

Public benefits

  • Unemployment
  • Workers compensation
  • Crime victims
  • Occupational disease disablement
  • General assistance

Pensions

  • ERISA qualified benefits needed for support
  • Public school employees
  • IRAs and Roth IRAs up to $1,245,475
  • Other retirement benefits

Miscellaneous

  • Ownership interest in an unincorporated association
  • Property of a business partnership

Wildcard

  • Up to $500 in any personal property
  • Up to $5,000 in any real or personal property if homestead exemption is unused.

Federal exemptions may be filed in New Mexico instead of using the state exemption statute. However, the exemptions cannot be mixed and matched, so choose carefully.

Do I Need a 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 Mexico allows either the state statute or the federal statute to be used when filing exemptions; each having different assets protected from creditors. A bankruptcy lawyer in New Mexico 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.