Missouri Bankruptcy Exemptions

If you file for bankruptcy in Missouri, you can protect certain property with Missouri's bankruptcy exemptions.

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:

  • how long you must live in Missouri before using its exemptions
  • whether Missouri exemptions will protect all of your property, and
  • what will happen to any property you can't exempt.

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.

How Missouri Bankruptcy Exemptions Work

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.

  • In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the bankruptcy trustee sells nonexempt property and distributes the proceeds to creditors.
  • In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you keep everything you own. However, you must pay the value of the nonexempt property equity in your repayment plan, or your disposable income, whichever is more.

The different approaches ensure that creditors receive the same amount regardless of the chapter filed.

When You Can Use Missouri Bankruptcy Exemptions

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.

Common Missouri Bankruptcy Exemptions

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.

Missouri Bankruptcy Exemption List

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.).

Homestead or Residential Property

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

Domestic Support

Up to $750 per month in support, alimony, or maintenance. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 513.430.1(10)(d)

Insurance Benefits

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)

Motor Vehicle

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.

Personal Property

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)

Life Insurance Benefits

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

Public Benefits

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)

Tools of the Trade

Up to $3,000 worth of tools, implements, and books of your trade or business. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 513.430.1(4)

Wildcard

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.

Confirming Missouri's Bankruptcy Exemptions

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.

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