In bankruptcy, a homestead exemption protects equity in your home. Here you'll find specific information about the homestead exemption in North Carolina.
For information about how the homestead exemption works in both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy, see The Homestead Exemption in Bankruptcy. For more articles on exemptions, see our Bankruptcy Exemptions area.
Under the North Carolina exemption system, homeowners may exempt up to $35,000 of their home or other real or personal property covered by the homestead exemption. Homeowners age 65 or older whose spouse is deceased may exempt up to $60,000 under the homestead exemption, if the property was previously owned by the debtor as a tenant by the entirety or as a joint tenant with rights of survivorship.
North Carolina permits doubling of the homestead exemption for married couples filing a joint bankruptcy. This means that a married couple filing jointly in North Carolina may protect up to $70,000 worth of equity in a home.
In North Carolina the homestead exemption applies to real and personal property, including your home, condominium, co-op, or burial plot. The property must be owned by a North Carolina resident and this resident or his or her dependents must live in the property at the time the bankruptcy is filed in order to claim the homestead exemption. A burial plot must be for the benefit of the debtor or the debtor's dependents.
Some states allow bankruptcy filers to use the federal bankruptcy exemptions instead of the state exemptions. North Carolina is not one of those states. Pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1C-1601(f), residents of in North Carolina must use the state exemptions.
(To learn more about which state exemptions apply to you, see Which Exemptions Can You Use in Bankruptcy?)
In North Carolina, the homestead exemption is automatic – you don't have to file a homestead declaration in order to claim the homestead exemption in bankruptcy.
If property is held as a tenancy in the entirety, it means the property is jointly owned by a married couple as a single marital entity, not as individuals. North Carolina permits tenancies by the entirety, and this may allow debtors to file bankruptcy and protect more than the homestead exemption amount.
North Carolina permits residents to apply any unused amount of the homestead exemption, up to $5,000, towards any other personal property. (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1C-1601(a)(2)).
North Carolina's homestead exemption is found in the North Carolina state statutes at N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1C-1601 and in the North Carolina Constitution, Article X. To learn how to find state statutes, check out Nolo's Laws and Legal Research area.