In bankruptcy, a homestead exemption protects equity in your home. Here you’ll find specific information about the homestead exemption in Michigan.
For information about how the homestead exemption works in both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy, see The Homestead Exemption in Bankruptcy. For more articles on exemptions, see our Bankruptcy Exemptions area.
The Michigan Homestead Exemption Amount
Under the Michigan exemption system, each homeowner and his or her dependents may exempt up to $35,300 of his or her interest in his or her home or other property covered by the homestead exemption. If the homeowner is age 65 or older or is disabled, the exemption amount is $52,925.
Doubling for Married Couples
In some states, if a married couple files bankruptcy together and they own the property together, each spouse is allowed the full exemption amount, thereby doubling the available exemption. In Michigan, spouses who own property together cannot double the homestead exemption. However, if the spouses own the property as tenants by the entirety, they may be able to protect the entire value of the property (see below).
The Scope of the Michigan Homestead Exemption
In Michigan, the homestead exemption applies to real property, including your house, condominium, co-op unit, mobile home, motor home, boat or any other watercraft, or manufactured home to which you hold title and that you use as your principal residence. The homestead exemption also applies to appurtenances to the property. If the property is outside a city, village, or recorded plat, the homestead includes up to 40 acres. If the property is inside a city, village, or recorded plat, the exemption includes one lot or parcel.
Can You Use the Federal Bankruptcy Exemptions in Michigan?
In Michigan, you can use either the state exemption system or the federal bankruptcy exemption system (but you can’t pick and choose different exemptions from each system – you have to use all state exemptions or all federal exemptions.)
The federal bankruptcy homestead exemption amount is $21,625. The exemption may be used for homes, condos, co-ops, mobile homes, and burial plots. Married couples may double this exemption. You can find the federal bankruptcy homestead exemption at 11 U.S.C. §522(d)(1) and (5).
(To learn more about which state exemptions apply to you, see Which Exemptions Can You Use in Bankruptcy?)
In Michigan, the homestead exemption is automatic – you don’t have to file a homestead declaration in order to claim the homestead exemption in bankruptcy.
Real Property Held as Tenancy in the Entirety in Michigan
If property is held as a tenancy in the entirety, it means the property is jointly owned by a married couple as a single marital entity, not as individuals.
A homestead held as tenants by the entirety in Michigan is fully exempt in bankruptcy under the Michigan exemption law except with regard to debt that is joint between the spouses.
Finding the Michigan Homestead Exemption Statute
Michigan's homestead exemption is found in the Michigan Compiled Laws at MCL 600.5451(n). To learn how to find state statutes, check out Nolo’s Laws and Legal Research area.
The Michigan exemption statute can be found at the Michigan Legislature.
Periodic Adjustments of Michigan Exemption Amounts
The Michigan Department of Treasury adjusts the Michigan exemption amounts every three years for inflation, starting in 2005. The last adjustment was in April 2011; the next adjustment will be in April 2014. You can find the most recently updated figures at the Michigan Department of Treasury in the Economic Reports section.