Completing Bankruptcy's Schedule C: The Property You Claim as Exempt

On Schedule C of the bankruptcy petition, you list all of the property you claim is exempt.

By , Attorney · University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law

When filing for bankruptcy, one of the many forms you must complete is Schedule C: The Property You Claim as Exempt. You list all of the property you're legally entitled to "exempt" or keep on Schedule C.

What Is Exempt Property and Why Is It Important?

While many people worry that they won't get to keep any of their property when they file bankruptcy, this isn't true. The law allows you to retain property needed to live and work.

Each state has a set of exemption laws you can use to protect your property. Some states, however, allow you to choose between the state exemptions and the federal exemption scheme.

  • Exemptions in Chapter 7. If you list the exempt property on Schedule C, you get to keep it.
  • Exemptions in Chapter 13. Exemptions also matter for Chapter 13 bankruptcy because they play a role in determining how much you must repay unsecured creditors. Specifically, for every dollar of property that you keep over and above the allowed exemption amount, you must, at a minimum, pay that same amount to your unsecured creditors in your repayment plan. Ultimately, if you want to keep more property than you can exempt, you must pay for it.

To learn more about how exemptions work, which property is exempt, and what exemptions you can use, see Bankruptcy Exemptions Overview.

How to Get and Complete Schedule C

You can find the most recent version of Schedule C on the U.S. Court's website. Here's the information you'll need to provide:

Exemption system you're using. In the first section, you have to check one of two boxes. Your choice tells the court whether you will use the federal exemption system (11 U.S.C. § 522(b)(2)) or your state exemption system (11 U.S.C. § 522(b)(3)). However, not every state allows you to choose between the federal and state systems. Most require you to use the state exemptions. Because of residency requirements, some filers won't qualify to use any state's system. If that happens, you can use the federal exemptions.

Description of property. In the first column of Schedule C, you must describe each item of property or each asset you are claiming as either fully or partially exempt (it will only be partially exempt if the value exceeds the exemption amount). Use the same property description you used in Schedule A/B.

Schedule A/B line number. Check Schedule A/B and find the line where you originally listed the property. In the first column, insert that line number where it says "Line from Schedule A/B." This helps prevent confusion about the particular property you're exempting.

Current value of the portion you own. In the second column of Schedule C, you'll enter the current replacement value of the portion you own and are claiming as exempt. If you're the only owner, you'll write down the entire value. If you and someone else own the property on a 50/50 basis, you'll declare half of the value. Use the information you already provided on Schedule A/B to keep the figures consistent. Also, make sure it matches the value on Schedule D: Creditors Who Have Claims Secured by Property, if applicable. For more information, read How to Fill Out Bankruptcy Forms.

Amount of exemption you claim. In the third column, you have two choices. If your exemption schedule only allows you to exempt a certain dollar amount, check the first box and insert that number. If, however, the exemption statute allows you to exempt an unlimited dollar amount, check the second box, "100% of fair market value, up to the applicable statutory limit."

Specific laws that allow the exemption. In the fourth column of Schedule C, you'll provide the statutory citation (the code number for the law that allows for the exemption) that gives you the legal right to exempt that item. If you aren't sure about this, you should consult with legal counsel. Find out more about state bankruptcy exemptions.

Claiming a homestead exemption more than $189,050. If you are not using state exemptions that provide a homestead exemption greater than $189,050, check no. Check yes if you are using state exemptions that provide a homestead exemption greater than $189,050 (you're only likely to do this if you have more than $189,050 of equity in your home). Check yes again if you acquired the property within 1,215 days of filing the petition. In certain situations, your homestead exemption may be capped at $189,050. (The amount is found in 11 U.S.C. § 522(p) and is current for cases filed between April 1, 2022, and March 31, 2025.)

Need More Bankruptcy Help?

Did you know Nolo has been making the law easy for over fifty years? It's true—and we want to make sure you find what you need. Below you'll find more articles explaining how bankruptcy works. And don't forget that our bankruptcy homepage is the best place to start if you have other questions!

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We wholeheartedly encourage research and learning, but online articles can't address all bankruptcy issues or the facts of your case. The best way to protect your assets in bankruptcy is by hiring a local bankruptcy lawyer.

Updated April 7, 2022

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