Wisconsin Bankruptcy Exemptions

Find out what property you can protect in bankruptcy with Wisconsin's bankruptcy exemptions.

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If you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Wisconsin, you can protect some or all of your property with Wisconsin’s bankruptcy exemptions. The bankruptcy exemptions in Wisconsin also play a role in Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Read on to learn about what property is covered by Wisconsin’s bankruptcy exemptions.

For a general overview of bankruptcy exemptions, visit the Bankruptcy Exemption topic page.

Wisconsin Debtors May Choose Between Federal and State Exemptions

Wisconsin is one of the few states that allow debtors to choose between state and the federal bankruptcy exemptions. This means that bankruptcy filers may examine both sets of exemptions and elect the exemptions that better protect their assets.

Married Couples May Double Wisconsin Exemptions

Married couples filing a joint bankruptcy in Wisconsin may “double” the exemption amount (assuming they each have an ownership interest in the property).

Common Wisconsin Exemptions

Here are some of the most common exemptions available under Wisconsin law:

Bank Deposits

Savings accounts are exempt up to $1,000. Wisc. Stat. Ann. § 815.18.

Cemeteries and Burial Property

Tombstones, coffins, cemetery lots owned by individuals, and other burial articles are exempt. Wisc. Stat. Ann. § 815.18.

Crime Victims’ Compensation

Crime victims’ compensation is 100% exempt. Wisc. Stat. Ann. § 949.07.

Fraternal Benefit Society Benefits

Fraternal benefit society benefits are 100% exempt. Wisc. Stat. Ann. § 614.96.

Homestead or Residential Property

Debtor homeowners may exempt up to $75,000 of their homestead. Wisc. Stat. Ann. § 815.20.

For more details about how the homestead exemption works in Wisconsin, see The Wisconsin Homestead Exemption.

Insurance Benefits

Federal disability benefits and fire insurance proceeds are 100% exempt. Accident insurance proceeds are 100% exempt. Unmatured life insurance and annuity contracts are exempt up to $150,000. Life insurance payments are 100% exempt. Wis. Stat. Ann. § 815.18.

Motor Vehicles

A debtor may exempt up to $4,000 in one motor vehicle. Wis. Stat. Ann. §§ 344.37 and 815.18

To learn more, visit The Wisconsin Motor Vehicle Exemption in Bankruptcy.

Partnership Property

Wisconsin has adopted the Uniform Partnership Act provision exempting a partner’s interest in specific partnership property. Wis. Stat. Ann. § 178.21. 

Pension and Retirement Benefits

Employee retirement benefits are 100% exempt. Wis. Stat. Ann. § 815.18.

Personal Property

A debtor may exempt up to $12,000 in the aggregate value of any household goods and furnishings, wearing apparel, keepsakes, jewelry and other articles of personal adornment, appliances, books, musical instruments, firearms, sporting goods, animals, or other tangible personal property held primarily for the personal, family or household use of the debtor or a dependent of the debtor. A debtor may also exempt any money paid toward tuition or college savings funds. Wis. Stat. Ann. § 815.18.

Prisoner Property

Wages earned during imprisonment are 100% exempt. Wis. Stat. Ann. §§ 303.065, 303.08 and 303.10.

Trade Implements

A debtor may exempt up to $15,000 in tools, equipment, inventory, farm products, and professional books. Wis. Stat. Ann. § 815.18.

Unemployment Compensation

Unemployment compensation is exempt except for child support claims. Wis. Stat. Ann. § 108.13.

Veterans’ Benefits

Veterans’ war pension benefits are 100% exempt. Wis. Stat. Ann. §§ 45.35(8) and 815.18.

Wages

A debtor may exempt 75% of his or net weekly income, limited to the extent reasonably necessary, but not less than 30 times the greater of state or federal minimum wage. Wis. Stat. Ann. §§ 20.921(1) and 815.18.

(Learn more about wage exemptions in Wisconsin.)

Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Workers’ compensation is 100% exempt. Wis. Stat. Ann. § 102.27.

Confirming the Status of Wisconsin’s Bankruptcy Exemptions

Wisconsin’s exemption amounts are adjusted periodically. To make sure you have the most recent figures, be sure to check for any updates at the official website of the Wisconsin State Legislature:http://legis.wisconsin.gov/Pages/default.aspx.

For additional information on how to research and find the latest exemption amounts, see our Legal Research Center.

 

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