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.

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. Not only will you find answers, but it includes helpful checklists and a link to an interactive bankruptcy quiz. Or, try the start-to-finish bankruptcy guide, What You Need to Know to File for Bankruptcy.

Homestead Exemptions Available in a Delaware Bankruptcy

In Delaware, you'll use Delaware's state exemptions—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, keep in mind that spouses can double some exemption amounts, but not all. Find out about other filing considerations for spouses.

Kansas 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.

Delaware Bankruptcy Exemptions

Federal Nonbankruptcy Exemptions

Property Protected by the Delaware Homestead Exemption

In Delaware, the homestead exemption applies to real property, 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 $170,350 (this figure will adjust on April 1, 2022).

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 the best way to protect your assets is by consulting with a local bankruptcy lawyer.

Need More Help?

You might not know this, but Nolo has been making the law easy for DIYers for over fifty years. If you have questions, use the links we've included throughout for more details. Otherwise, you'll find the answers to almost all of your bankruptcy questions at nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/bankruptcy. You can also learn about finding state laws and doing legal research.

This overview cannot provide all of the information you'll need to file a bankruptcy case. For more detailed information, consider buying a self-help book such as How to File Chapter 7 Bankruptcy by Attorney Cara O'Neill and Albin Renauer J.D.

Updated July 23, 2021

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