Below are major exemptions available in North Carolina bankruptcy. North Carolina has opted out of the federal bankruptcy exemptions, and so state law defines and lists the exemptions that can be used. Consult a lawyer to determine the particulars of each exemption, and which exemptions are available to you. Note that in North Carolina, recent purchases made within 90 days of bankruptcy may not be exempt.

• Homestead (equity in dwelling used as residence)
– Up to $35,000
– Up to $60,000 if over 65, and debtor’s spouse has died leaving ownership to survivor
– Burial plot may be exempted in lieu of homestead
• Equity in automobile
– Up to $3,500 in one motor vehicle
• Personal property
– Up to $5,000 in clothing, household goods, furnishing, appliances, books, animals, crops, or musical instruments, and an additional $1,000 in these items for each dependent (up to $4,000 more)
– Prescribed health aids
• Tools of the trade
– Up to $2,000 in professional books, tools, and implements
• Wages
– 60 days’ wages
– A portion of earned, unpaid wages as needed for support
• Insurance
– Life insurance benefits paid to spouse or children
– Employee group life insurance
– Fraternal benefit society benefits
• Pensions and retirement
– Tax exempt retirement accounts including IRAs and 401(k)s
– State, county, city, and municipal employee pension benefits
– Legislative, teacher, law enforcement, firefighter, and rescue worker pension benefits
• Public benefits
Unemployment benefits
– Workers’ compensation
– Crime victims’ compensation
– Public assistance
Social security
– Veterans’ benefits
• Alimony and child support
– Alimony, child support, and separate maintenance as needed for support
• Other
– Personal injury or wrongful death compensation
– Qualified college savings accounts up to $25,000
– Business partnership property
• Wildcard (exemption for personal property of your choice)
– Up to $5,000 of property if a portion of the homestead or burial exemption is not used
– Up to $500 of personal property

Do I Need a Bankruptcy Lawyer?

North Carolina laws regarding bankruptcy are complex, and a bankruptcy lawyer may be able to help you navigate the system. A lawyer can also help you avoid common filing mistakes and get all of the exemptions you qualify for.