Like all states, Missouri has a set of exemptions you can use to protect 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 Filing for Bankruptcy in Missouri. 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.
The different approaches ensure that creditors receive the same amount regardless of the chapter filed.
You can file for bankruptcy in Missouri after living there for more than 180 days. However, you must live in Missouri much longer before using Missouri 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.
Here are some of the Missouri bankruptcy exemptions that bankruptcy filers often use. Spouses can double the exemption amount if they both own the property and file a joint bankruptcy case, with the exception of the homestead exemption. Other exemptions you can use in addition to Missouri's exemptions include:
Filers must use the Missouri bankruptcy exemptions—the federal bankruptcy exemptions aren't available in this state.
Below are some of the most common exemptions available under Missouri state law. Unless otherwise noted, all references are to the Missouri Revised Statutes (Mo. Rev. Stat.).
The homestead exemption protects equity in your home. In Missouri, you can exempt up to $15,000 of equity in the real estate in which you live or will live, or up to $5,000 of equity in a mobile home in which you live. Joint owners may not double the exemption. Mo. Rev. Stat. § § 513.430.1(6), 513.475
Property owned as a tenancy by the entirety is protected against the debts of only one spouse (special conditions apply). Mo. Rev. Stat. § § 513.475, 513.427
Up to $750 per month in support, alimony, or maintenance. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 513.430.1(10)(d)
Up to $150,000 of life insurance dividends, loan or cash surrender value, and interest, if purchased more than six months before filing bankruptcy. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 513.430.1(8)
Disability or illness benefits. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 513.430.1(10)(c)
Unmatured life insurance policy. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 513.430.1(7)
If you file bankruptcy in Missouri, you can protect up to $3,000 of equity in a motor vehicle. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 513.430.1(5)
Example. Jolene owns a 2008 Toyota Camry worth $12,000. She owes the dealer $10,000, leaving $2,000 of equity. She can file for bankruptcy in Missouri and use the $3,000 motor vehicle exemption to protect her vehicle fully.
Up to $3,000 of value in furniture, clothing, books, crops, appliances, animals, and instruments. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 513.430.1(1)
Burial grounds, up to one acre or $100. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 214.190
Health aids. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 513.430.1(9)
Up to $1,500 of value in a wedding ring and up to $500 of value in other jewelry. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 513.430.1(2)
Wrongful death awards to the extent reasonably necessary for support. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 513.430.1(11)
Health savings accounts. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 513.430.1(10)(f)
Teachers' and school employee retirement benefits. Mo. Rev. Stat. § § 169.090, 169.240, 169.380, 169.520, 169.587, 169.690, 169.780
ERISA-qualified benefits necessary for support (limited to payments being received). Mo. Rev. Stat. § 513.430.1(10)(f)
Firefighters' retirement benefits. Mo. Rev. Stat. § § 86.563, 87.090, 87.365, 87.485
Police and highway patrol retirement benefits § § 86.190, 86.353, 86.493, 86.563, 86.780, 104.250
Public officers and employees' retirement benefits. Mo. Rev. Stat. § § 70.695, 70.755, 71.207
State employees' retirement benefits. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 104.540
Veterans' benefits. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 513.430.1(10)(b)
Workers' compensation. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 287.260
Unemployment compensation. Mo. Rev. Stat. § § 288,380, 513.430
Social Security benefits and public assistance. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 513.430.1(10)(a)
Up to $3,000 worth of tools, implements, and books of your trade or business. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 513.430.1(4)
Up to $600 in value of any property. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 513.430.1(3)
If you are the head of your family, an additional $1,250 of value in any property, plus another $350 for each of your children. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 513.440.
Missouri's exemption amounts are adjusted periodically. To ensure that you have the most recent figures, be sure to check for any updates at the website of the Missouri General Assembly.