The Delaware Homestead Exemption

If you file for bankruptcy in Delaware, the Delaware homestead exemption protects up to $125,000 of equity in your home.

By , Attorney

Most people want to know whether they can keep valuable property before filing for bankruptcy—especially a home. If you qualify to use the Delaware homestead exemption, you can protect some or all of the equity in your house. In this article, we explain:

  • how much the Delaware homestead exemption will cover, and
  • how to apply it in your bankruptcy case.

For more bankruptcy information, read Filing for Bankruptcy in Delaware.



Homestead Exemptions Available in a Delaware Bankruptcy

You'll use Delaware's state exemptions in Delaware. The federal bankruptcy exemptions aren't available (some states allow residents to choose between the two sets). However, you can supplement Delaware's state exemptions with the federal nonbankruptcy exemptions.

To help you make an informed choice, we've listed the homestead exemption amount below. We've also included links to the federal and state exemption lists that apply in your case so you'll have an easier time deciding whether bankruptcy will work for you.

If you're married, remember that spouses can double some exemption amounts, but not all. Find out about other filing considerations for spouses.

Delaware Homestead Exemption

Homestead exemption amount

$125,000

Can spouses who file a joint bankruptcy double the exemption?

No.

Homestead exemption law

Del. Code Ann. tit. 10 § 4914

Other information

Amount changes periodically.

Where to find other exemptions.

Filing for Bankruptcy in Delaware

Federal Nonbankruptcy Exemptions

Property Protected by the Delaware Homestead Exemption

The homestead exemption applies to real property in Delaware, including your home, condominium, and manufactured home.

If you hold property as tenancy by entirety with your spouse: If one spouse files for bankruptcy—not both—the bankruptcy trustee might be prevented from using the property equity to pay off debts. However, this is a tricky area of law. Talk with a local bankruptcy attorney before filing to ensure that you don't lose valuable property.

Timing Your Delaware Bankruptcy

You can file for bankruptcy in Delaware after living there for more than 180 days. However, you must live in Delaware much longer before using Delaware exemptions—at least 730 days before filing, to be exact. Otherwise, you'd use the previous state's exemptions.

But suppose you lived in multiple states during the two years before filing for bankruptcy. In that case, you'd use the exemptions of the state you lived in for most of the 180 days before the two-year period that immediately preceded your filing. (11 U.S.C. § 522(b)(3)(A).) Learn more about filing for bankruptcy after moving to a new state.

Also, to claim the total value of the Delaware homestead exemption, you must have purchased and owned the property for at least 1,215 days before the bankruptcy filing. If you can't meet this requirement, your homestead exemption is limited by federal law to $189,050 (this figure will adjust on April 1, 2025).

Learn more about this requirement, the current amount of the federal cap, and other important exceptions to homestead exemptions.

Claiming the Delaware Bankruptcy Homestead Exemption

In Delaware, the homestead exemption is automatic – you don't have to file a homestead declaration with the recorder's office to claim the homestead exemption in bankruptcy. Instead, when filing for bankruptcy, you'll list your homestead exemption on Schedule C: The Property You Claim as Exempt when completing your bankruptcy forms. You can find out about other requirements you'll need to meet in Your Home in Chapter 7 or Your Home in Chapter 13.

Finding the Delaware Bankruptcy Homestead Exemption Statute

You'll find Delaware's homestead exemption in the Delaware Code at Del. Code Ann. tit. 10 § 4914 on the Delaware Code Online website, but consulting with a local bankruptcy lawyer is the best way to protect your assets.

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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Helpful Bankruptcy Sites

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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 July 23, 2021

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