Can I keep my jewelry if I file for bankruptcy in Arizona?

If you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Arizona, you can keep engagement and wedding rings and a watch, up to a limited value.

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If you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Arizona, you can keep a wedding ring, engagement ring, and watch – all up to a certain value. If you have other items of expensive jewelry, you probably cannot keep them. If you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, however, you can keep all of your property, including your jewelry.

Keeping Jewelry in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Arizona

In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, often called a reorganization bankruptcy, you enter into a repayment plan for three to five years. Your creditors get paid through the plan – some in full and some in part. Although a Chapter 13 plan requires a long commitment, the advantage is that you get to keep your property, including  jewelry. 

If you have very expensive jewelry however, that will probably affect how much you will be required to repay unsecured creditors.

Keeping Jewelry in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Arizona

Chapter 7 bankruptcy works differently. In Chapter 7, you must give up certain items of property. The bankruptcy trustee sells this property and uses the proceeds to repay (at least in part) your unsecured creditors.

Arizona Bankruptcy Exemptions

Not all of your property is up for grabs, however. Arizona (and all of the other states) has enacted laws that protect certain types of property. These laws are called exemptions. Some property is exempt no matter what the value, and other property is exempt only up to a dollar amount. The idea behind exemptions is that someone filing for bankruptcy should not be stripped of basic things needed for living – like shelter, clothing, furniture, a car, and the like. (Learn more about how bankruptcy exemptions work.)

Some states allow you to choose between the state exemption system and another set, called the federal bankruptcy exemptions. But Arizona is not one of these states. If you file for bankruptcy in Arizona, you must use the Arizona bankruptcy exemptions.

Keeping Jewelry Under the Arizona Bankruptcy Exemptions 

In Arizona, you can keep jewelry using the below exemptions. If you are married and filing a joint bankruptcy, you can double these amounts.

  • Wedding and engagement rings. You can keep wedding and engagement rings up to a total value of $2,000.
  • Watch. You can keep a watch up to $150 in value.

How to Value Jewelry in Bankruptcy

The value of your jewelry for exemption purposes is the amount you would have to pay, on the date you file for bankruptcy, to replace each item with a used item of similar age and in similar condition.  There are various methods of determining the replacement value, but for expensive jewelry you will almost always need an appraisal. (Learn more about how to value personal property in bankruptcy.)

Other Ways to Keep Jewelry in an Arizona Bankruptcy

If you want to keep nonexempt items of jewelry, the trustee may accept other items of exempt property in exchange for the jewelry. The trustee would then sell these items instead of your jewelry to repay your creditors.

Similarly, if you have some cash, you may be able to reimburse the bankruptcy trustee for the value of the jewelry you want to keep. Again, the trustee would use this money (instead of selling the jewelry) to repay unsecured creditors.

by: , J.D.

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