In bankruptcy, a homestead exemption protects equity in your home. Here you’ll find specific information about the homestead exemption in North Carolina.
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 North Carolina Homestead Exemption Amount
Under the North Carolina exemption system, homeowners may exempt up to $35,000 of their home or other real or personal property covered by the homestead exemption. Homeowners age 65 or older whose spouse is deceased may exempt up to $60,000 under the homestead exemption, if the property was previously owned by the debtor as a tenant by the entirety or as a joint tenant with rights of survivorship.
Doubling for Married Couples
North Carolina permits doubling of the homestead exemption for married couples filing a joint bankruptcy. This means that a married couple filing jointly in North Carolina may protect up to $70,000 worth of equity in a home.
The Scope of the Homestead Exemption
In North Carolina the homestead exemption applies to real and personal property, including your home, condominium, co-op, or burial plot. The property must be owned by a North Carolina resident and this resident or his or her dependents must live in the property at the time the bankruptcy is filed in order to claim the homestead exemption. A burial plot must be for the benefit of the debtor or the debtor’s dependents.
Can You Use the Federal Bankruptcy Exemptions in North Carolina?
Some states allow bankruptcy filers to use the federal bankruptcy exemptions instead of the state exemptions. North Carolina is not one of those states. Pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1C-1601(f), residents of in North Carolina must use the state exemptions.
(To learn more about which state exemptions apply to you, see Which Exemptions Can You Use in Bankruptcy?)
In North Carolina, 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
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. North Carolina permits tenancies by the entirety, and this may allow debtors to file bankruptcy and protect more than the homestead exemption amount.
The Wildcard Exemption in North Carolina
North Carolina permits residents to apply any unused amount of the homestead exemption, up to $5,000, towards any other personal property. (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1C-1601(a)(2)).
Finding the North Carolina Homestead Exemption Statute
North Carolina’s homestead exemption is found in the North Carolina state statutes at N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1C-1601 and in the North Carolina Constitution, Article X. To learn how to find state statutes, check out Nolo’s Laws and Legal Research area.