Major exemptions available when filing for bankruptcy in Hawaii are listed below. Hawaii is one of the few states which allow its residents to choose between the federal and state exemptions. Citizens who file for bankruptcy in Hawaii may choose between the exemption system listed below or the federal exemption system.

However, the debtor may not pick and choose between the systems. If the debtor chooses to use the Hawaii homestead exemption, the debtor must use all the other Hawaii exemptions. Likewise, if the debtor uses the federal homestead exemption, the debtor must also use the federal exemptions for personal property.

A lawyer should be consulted to determine the particulars of each exemption and to determine all available exemptions that may be filed.

1) Homestead

  • Up to $30,000 if 65 years old or head of family. Property must not exceed one acre.
  • Up to $20,000 if not 65 years old or head of family. Property must not exceed one acre.
  • Married couples may not double.

2) Equity in automobile

  • Up to $2,575 in one motor vehicle.

3) Personal property

  • All appliances, furnishings, clothing, and books used by debtor or debtor’s family.
  • Up to $1000 in jewelry and watches.
  • Proceeds from sale of personal property for six months after sale.
  • Proceeds from sale of insurance for six months after sale.
  • Partnership interests.
  • One burial plot, up to 250 square feet.

4) Tools of the trade

  • Tools, instruments, uniforms, books, equipment, and any other personal property ordinarily and reasonably necessary to trade, business, or profession.
  • One commercial fishing boat and net.
  • One motor vehicle.

5) Insurance

  • Accident, health, or sickness benefits.
  • Life insurance proceeds if text of the policy prohibits proceeds from being used to pay the beneficiary’s creditors.
  • Life or health insurance policy for spouse or child.
  • Annuity contract or endowment policy proceeds wherein the beneficiary is the insured’s spouse, child, or parent.
  • Fraternal Benefit Society benefits.
  • Group life insurance proceeds.

6) Pensions

  • ERISA qualified benefits needed for support.
  • IRAs
  • Firefighters’ pension.
  • Police officers’ pension.
  • Public officers’ and employees’ pension.
  • Any other rights under any retirement plan qualified under Internal Revenue Code.

7) Public benefits

8) Alimony and child support

  • Amount reasonably necessary for support of debtor and dependents.

9) Wages

  • Income earned 31 days before filing bankruptcy.
  • Prisoners’ earnings held by state.

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. Either the Hawaii bankruptcy exemption statute or the federal bankruptcy exemption system can be used when filing for exemptions in Hawaii.

A bankruptcy lawyer knows the particulars of filing for bankruptcy and can recommend what chapter of bankruptcy is right for you, and also ensure that your exemptions are filed correctly. A bankruptcy lawyer can provide you more information if there is a legal basis for your bankruptcy case.