Like all states, Mississippi has a set of exemptions you can use to protect some property when filing for bankruptcy, such as a home, car, and retirement account. In this article, you'll learn:
If you have more questions, read How to File Bankruptcy in Mississippi. 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.
You can protect property covered by an exemption regardless of whether you file for Chapter 7 or 13. But each chapter treats nonexempt property—things not covered by an exemption—differently.
Also, spouses can double the exemption amount if they both own the property for all exemptions other than the homestead exemption. And you can use exemptions on the federal nonbankruptcy exemption list, as well as protect stimulus payments, tax credits, and child credits in bankruptcy with the federal COVID-19 recovery rebate exemption.
You can file for bankruptcy in Mississippi after living there for more than 180 days. However, you must live in Mississippi much longer before using Mississippi exemptions—at least 730 days before filing, to be exact. Otherwise, you'd use the previous state's exemptions.
But, suppose you weren't living in any particular state 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.
Below are some of the most common exemptions available under Mississippi state law. Unless otherwise noted, all references are to the Mississippi Code Annotated.
The homestead exemption protects a portion of the equity in your home. In Mississippi, you can exempt up to $75,000 of equity in the real estate in which you live, as long as it's less than 160 acres. If you are over 60 years of age and married or widowed, you can claim the homestead exemption for a former residence. The Mississippi homestead exemption also protects proceeds from the sale of your home. You can also safeguard proceeds from insurance, condemnation, or the sale of the house in which you lived for 18 months. Married couples filing a joint bankruptcy can double the homestead exemption only if they live in separate residences. Miss. Code Ann. § 85-3-21
You can protect up to $30,000 of equity in a mobile or manufactured home in which you reside. However, you can't use the homestead exemption and the personal property exemption (below) to protect your mobile home. Miss. Code Ann. § 85-3-1(d)
For more details about how the homestead exemption works in Mississippi, see The Mississippi Homestead Exemption.
Life insurance proceeds held by the insurer. Miss. Code Ann. § 83-7-5
Unlimited life insurance proceeds ($50,000 if procured less than one year before filing or paid to an executor or administrator) Miss. Code Ann. § § 85-3-1(b)(ii), 85-3-13
Disability benefits. Miss. Code Ann. § 85-3-11
Homeowners' insurance proceeds up to $75,000 (plus $250 for personal property). Miss. Code Ann. § 85-3-23
Fraternal benefit society benefits. Miss. Code Ann. § 83-29-39
Mississippi does not have a dedicated motor vehicle exemption. Still, you have up to $10,000 available to protect all of your personal or household property (see below), including your motor vehicles.
Up to $10,000 in personal property (things other than real estate), such as motor vehicles, furniture, household goods, appliances, clothing, wedding rings, tools of the trade (items needed in your profession), books, health aids, crops, and pets. Miss. Code Ann. § 85-3-1(a)
Up to $10,000 in personal injury awards. Miss. Code Ann. § 85-3-17
Sale or insurance proceeds for exempt property. Miss. Code Ann. § 85-3-1(b)(ii)
$5,000 in an earned income credit, federal or state tax refund. Miss. Code Ann. § 85-3-1(i), (j), (k)
Tax-exempt education savings plans. Miss. Code Ann. § 85-3-1(f)
Health savings account. Miss. Code Ann. § 85-3-1(g)
Life insurance proceeds payable to an executor or administrator to $50,000. Miss. Code Ann.§ 85-3-13
IRAs, Keoghs, and ERISA-qualified benefits deposited more than one year before filing. Miss. Code Ann. § 85-3-1(e)
401(k)s, 403(b)s, profit-sharing and money purchase plans, SEP and SIMPLE IRAs, and defined-benefit plans are also exempt under federal law 11 U.S.C. § 522(b)(3)(C). Learn more about retirement accounts in bankruptcy.
Employees' private trust plan benefits. Miss. Code Ann. § 71-1-539
Municipal employee benefits. Miss. Code Ann. § § 21-29-51, 21-29-257, 21-29-307
Teachers' retirement benefits. Miss. Code Ann. § 25-11-201
Public officers and employees' retirement benefits and deferred compensation. Miss. Code Ann. § § 25-13-31, 25-14-5
State employees' retirement benefits. Miss. Code Ann. § 25-11-129
Supplemental legislative retirement plan. Miss. Code Ann. § 25-11-319
Optional retirement benefits for university employees. Miss. Code Ann. § 25-11-419
Assistance to the aged. Miss. Code Ann. § 43-9-19
Assistance to the disabled. Miss. Code Ann. § 43-29-15
Assistance to the blind. Miss. Code Ann. § 43-3-71
Workers' compensation. Miss. Code Ann. § 71-3-43
Unemployment compensation. Miss. Code Ann. § 71-5-539
Crime victims' compensation. Miss. Code Ann. § 99-41-23(7)
Up to $50,000 of any property if you are a Mississippi resident over 70 years of age. Miss. Code Ann. § 85-3-1(h).
Mississippi's exemption amounts adjust periodically. To ensure you have the most recent figures and declare all exemptions you're entitled to, review the Mississippi exemption statutes and check for updates at the Mississippi Secretary of State website, or speak with a bankruptcy lawyer.
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 May 26, 2021