The Maine Homestead Exemption

If you file for bankruptcy in Maine, the homestead exemption protects between $80,000 and $160,000 of your home equity. Here's how it works.

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

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

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

In Maine, you'll use Maine's state exemptions—the federal bankruptcy exemptions aren't available (some states allow residents to choose between the two sets). However, you can supplement Maine'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.

Maine Homestead Exemption

Homestead exemption amount

$80,000; $160,000 for a debtor with minor dependents, or people 60 years and older, or those with a disability

Can spouses who file a joint bankruptcy double the exemption?

Check with a local attorney.

Homestead exemption law

Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 14, § 4422(1)

Other information

Amount changes periodically.

Where to find other exemptions.

Maine Bankruptcy Exemptions

Federal Nonbankruptcy Exemptions

Property Protected by the Maine Homestead Exemption

The homestead exemption applies to real and personal property used as your residence in Maine, including a house, mobile home, co-op, or condominium. The exemption also includes burial plots. It also applies to property sales proceeds up to six months.

Timing Your Maine Bankruptcy

You can file for bankruptcy in Maine after living there for more than 180 days. However, you must live in Maine much longer before using Maine 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 Maine 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, federal law limits your homestead exemption 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 vital exceptions to homestead exemptions.

Claiming the Maine Bankruptcy Homestead Exemption

In Maine, 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 Maine Bankruptcy Homestead Exemption Statute

You'll find Maine's homestead exemption in the Maine Revised Statutes at Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 14, § 4422(1) on the Maine Legislature 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 made 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 October 11, 2021

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