Updated: April 17, 2019
If you file for bankruptcy in Kansas, you’ll use Kansas’ bankruptcy exemptions to protect your property. It’s not uncommon for filers to keep everything they own, but that’s not always the case. Whether you’ll lose or keep nonexempt property depends on the bankruptcy chapter you file.
Not sure which chapter to file? Start by reading When Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Is Better than Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.
Certain states offer you a choice between state exemptions and the federal bankruptcy exemption system, but Kansas isn’t one of them. In Kansas, you must use state exemptions, but you can use the federal nonbankruptcy exemptions, too.
Married couples filing together in a joint bankruptcy can double most of the exemption amounts if both spouses have an ownership interest in the property.
Unless otherwise noted, all law references are to the Kansas Statutes Annotated (Kan. Stat. Ann.) which you’ll find on the Kansas Legislature website.
The homestead exemption protects the equity in your home or principal residence. You can protect the entire value of the real property or mobile home that you occupy on property up to one acre located in a town or city, or up to 160 acres if it’s located on farmland. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 60-2301.
For more details about how the homestead exemption works in Kansas, see The Kansas Homestead Exemption.
You can protect up to $20,000 of equity in a motor vehicle used to get to and from work. If the vehicle is equipped to assist with a disability, you can protect the full, unlimited value of the vehicle. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 60-2304(c).
To learn more about how to exempt your motor vehicle under Kansas law, see The Kansas Motor Vehicle Exemption in Bankruptcy.
Life insurance proceeds if the debtor files bankruptcy more than one year after the policy goes into effect. Kan. Stat. Ann. §§ 40-414; 60-2313(a)(7); 40-258.
Fraternal Benefit Society benefits. Kan. Stat. Ann. §§ 40-711; 40-748; 60-2313(a)(8).
Liquor or club license. Kan. Stat. Ann. §§ 41-326; 41-2629.
Furnishings, clothing, earned income tax credits, and supplies, including food and fuel that are in your possession and are reasonably necessary at your residence for up to one year. Jewelry, up to $1,000 in value. Burial plot or crypt. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 60-2304
Funds held under a prearranged funeral agreement. Kan. Stat. Ann. §§ 16-310; 60-2313(a)(10).
Luggage and property detained by an innkeeper. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 36-202.
Pension, Retirement, and Life Insurance Benefits
ERISA-qualified benefits, IRAs and Roth IRAs and federal government pension needed for support & paid within three months prior to filing bankruptcy. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 60-2308.
Qualified retirement accounts are exempt under the federal rules and can be used in every state, regardless of the exemption scheme used. For current amounts, see Your Retirement Plan in Bankruptcy.
Payment under a stock bonus, pension, profit-sharing, annuity, or similar plan or contract on account of illness, disability, death, age, or length of service needed for support, and with the exception of support obligations. Kan. Stat. Ann. §§ 60-2308, 2312, 2313(a)(1).
Retirement benefits for police and firefighters; judges; state school employees; court reporters; public employees and elected officials; and state highway patrol. Kan. Stat. Ann. §§ 12-111a, 5005(e); 13-14, 102, 14a10; 14-10a10; 20-2618; 72-1786, 5526; 74-49, 4923, 4978, 4978g, 4989.
Earned income tax credit. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 60-2315.
Public assistance. Kan. Stat. Ann. §§ 39-717; 60-2313(a)(2).
75% of disposable earnings or 30 times the federal minimum wage, whichever is greater. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 60-2310.
Books, furniture, tools, and supplies used in your trade or profession, up to $7,500. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 60-2304.
If you don’t exempt your property carefully, you could lose it, or pay for it, depending on the bankruptcy chapter. You’ll want to steer clear of these common issues.
Do I automatically get to exempt property? No. In most cases, you’ll be allowed to exempt property that you’ll need to maintain a job and household, such as furnishings, clothing, and some equity in a vehicle. You must list the assets you can protect official bankruptcy form Schedule C: The Property You Claim as Exempt and file it along with other required paperwork.
Will someone check my exemptions? The bankruptcy trustee—the court-appointed official tasked with managing your case—will review Schedule C to ensure that you have the right to protect the claimed property. A trustee who doesn’t agree with your exemptions will likely attempt to resolve the issue with you informally. If unsuccessful, the trustee will file an objection with the bankruptcy court. The judge will decide the outcome.
Example. Mason owns a rare, classic car worth $15,000 but the state vehicle exemption won’t adequately protect it. Believing that the car qualifies as art—at least in his mind—Mason exempts it using his state’s unlimited artwork exemption. The trustee reviews Schedule C disagrees with Mason’s characterization and files an objection to the exemption with the court. After consideration, the judge will likely side with the trustee and determine that the vehicle doesn’t qualify as a piece of art.
What if I make a mistake? Most trustees won’t file an objection unless it’s clear that the debtor is trying to pull something over on the court. At least not without trying to resolve the issue first. If there’s a minor exemption problem, the trustee will likely call you to work the issue out informally.
It’s worth noting that it’s not a good idea to finesse exemptions. Not only do you have an obligation to supply correct information on your bankruptcy forms, purposefully making inaccurate statements could be considered fraudulent. Bankruptcy fraud is punishable by up to $250,000, 20 years in prison, or both.
Get more details about how bankruptcy exemptions work.
Kansas’s exemption amounts are adjusted periodically and could have changed since the last update of this article. It’s important to be sure you have the most recent figures by checking the Kansas Legislature website or consulting with a local bankruptcy lawyer.
Get detailed information about filing for bankruptcy in Kansas.