Oklahoma Bankruptcy Exemptions

Find out what property you can keep if you file for bankruptcy in Oklahoma.

By , Attorney · University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law

Table of Contents

Oklahoma bankruptcy exemptions protect your property in bankruptcy, and becoming familiar with bankruptcy exemptions before filing will help you determine whether your assets will be at risk.

If you have more questions, read Filing for Bankruptcy in Oklahoma. You'll find answers, helpful checklists, and an interactive bankruptcy quiz link.

How Do Bankruptcy Exemptions Work?

Bankruptcy helps struggling people get back on their feet by lessening their debt burden, not stripping them of everything they own. Exemptions allow bankruptcy filers to keep things needed to maintain a home and employment.

But paying creditors is also an important consideration. Bankruptcy exemptions balance these interests by letting filers keep necessary property but not unnecessary luxury items. Creditors receive bankruptcy funds when a bankruptcy filer owns "nonexempt" property not covered by a bankruptcy exemption.

How Do I Use Oklahoma Bankruptcy Exemptions to Protect Property?

You'll compare your property to Oklahoma's exemption laws. In most states (not all), debtors can use exemption laws to keep property from a creditor's reach in and outside bankruptcy.

Example. Big Creditor sued Ronin and received a $5,000 money judgment. When Big Creditor attempted to "levy" or remove money from Ronin's bank account, Ronin objected in court. Because the state's exemption law allowed Ronin to protect $1,500 of funds in a bank account, Big Creditor could seize only $3,500.

Example. When Maria filed for bankruptcy, she also had $5,000 in her checking account. She listed the state's $1,500 cash exemption in her bankruptcy petition and gave the nonexempt $3,500 to the bankruptcy trustee.

Will Oklahoma Bankruptcy Exemptions Protect My Property?

Yes, but you must use the Oklahoma bankruptcy exemptions because the federal bankruptcy exemptions aren't available in this state. However, Oklahoma filers can use the federal nonbankruptcy exemptions. You'll find both lists below.

In many cases, married filers can double the exemption amount when filing together when they both own the property. Check with a local bankruptcy lawyer for specifics.

What Are Commonly Used Bankruptcy Exemptions in Oklahoma?

Oklahoma bankruptcy filers can protect home equity using the Oklahoma homestead exemption, equity in a car using the Oklahoma motor vehicle exemption, and more.

Oklahoma's Homestead Exemption

Oklahoma has one of the most generous homestead exemptions in the country. You can exempt an unlimited amount of equity in your home, manufactured home if it's your primary residence, or other property covered by the homestead exemption as long as the property isn't larger than half an acre in a municipality or 160 acres elsewhere.

Because Oklahoma's homestead exemption is so generous, you must have owned the property for at least 1,215 days before the bankruptcy filing. Otherwise, your homestead exemption is limited by federal law. Read more about homestead exemptions and learn how this requirement prevents debtors from "shopping" for the most favorable homestead exemptions by imposing a federal cap of $189,050. (Applies to bankruptcy cases filed between April 1, 2022, and April 1, 2025.)

Finally, watch for another tricky rule. If you use more than 25% of the total square footage of your property for business purposes, your exemption is limited to $5,000. You can, however, rent your property and still claim the total exemption amount as long as you don't live in another residence.

Learn more about Oklahoma's homestead exemption and protecting your home in bankruptcy.

Oklahoma Motor Vehicle Exemption

In Oklahoma, you can exempt up to $7,500 of equity in a car, van, motorcycle, truck, SUV, or another motor vehicle. Find out about protecting cars in bankruptcy and how the motor vehicle exemption works in a Chapter 7 case.

Personal Property

In Oklahoma, you can exempt the following types of personal property. §31-1(A)(1) through (23)

  • books, portraits, and pictures
  • burial plots (also §8-7)
  • clothing to $4,000
  • college savings plan interest
  • deposits in an Individual Development Account
  • food and seed for growing crops to last one year
  • guns for household use, up to $2,000
  • health aids that are prescribed by a professional
  • household items, furniture, personal computer, and related equipment
  • livestock for family use: five cows, 100 chickens, 20 sheep, 10 hogs, two horses (along with bridles and saddles), feed to last one year
  • personal injury and wrongful death recoveries to $50,000
  • prepaid funeral benefits ( §36-6125(H))
  • war bond payroll savings account ( §51-42)
  • wedding and anniversary rings to $3,000


  • Erisa-qualified benefits, IRAs, Roth IRAs, Education IRAs & Keoghs. §31-1(A)(20), (24)
  • County employees §19-959
  • Disabled veterans §31-7
  • Firefighters §11-49-126
  • Judges §20-1111
  • Law enforcement employees §47-2-303.3
  • Police officers §11-50-124
  • Public employees §74-923
  • Tax-exempt benefits §60-328
  • Teachers §70-17-109
Retirement accounts all filers can protect. Federal law allows all filers to keep tax-exempt retirement accounts, including 401(K)s, 403(b)s, profit-sharing and money purchase plans, SEP and SIMPLE IRAs, defined benefit plans, and traditional and Roth IRAs to $1,512,350 per person (for cases filed between April 1, 2022, and March 31, 2025). (11 U.S.C. 522(b)(3)(C); (n).) Learn more about retirement accounts in bankruptcy.

Public Benefits

  • Crime victim compensation §21-142.13
  • Earned income tax credit §31-1(A)(23)
  • Public assistance §56-173
  • Social Security. §56-173
  • Unemployment compensation. §40-2-303
  • Workers' compensation. §85-48

Tools of the Trade

You can protect up to $10,000 in implements needed for any farmland part of your homestead and tools, books, and other apparatus needed for your business or profession. (§31-1(A)(5); 31-1(C).)


You can exempt 75% of wages earned 90 days before your bankruptcy filing. The bankruptcy judge may allow you to keep more if you demonstrate hardship. §12-1171.1; §31-1(A)(18); §31-1.1

Life Insurance

The following life and other insurance are exempt.

  • Annuity benefits and cash value. §36-3631.1
  • Assessment of mutual benefits. §36-2410
  • Fraternal benefit society benefits. §36-2718.1
  • Funeral benefits if they are prepaid and placed in a trust. §36-6125
  • Group life policy or proceeds. §36-3632
  • Insurance proceeds and cash value of life, health, accident, and mutual benefit insurance if a contract provision prohibits them from being used to pay creditors. §36-3631.1
  • Stock insurance benefits in a limited amount. §36-2510

Other Oklahoma Exemptions

  • Alimony and child support. §31-1(A)(19)
  • Beneficiary's interest in a statutory support trust. §6-3010
  • Liquor license. §37-532
  • Property of a business partnership. §54-1-504

Confirming Oklahoma Bankruptcy Exemptions

Other exemptions could apply to your situation, or the amounts could have changed since the last update. To find the most current laws, search the Oklahoma Statutes Annotated on the Oklahoma legislature's website. Legalconsumer.com also updates bankruptcy exemption amounts regularly.

Because ensuring you've found the correct information can be challenging, consider consulting with an Oklahoma bankruptcy attorney.

What Happens to Property I Can't Exempt in an Oklahoma Bankruptcy?

One of two things will happen. You'll either lose nonexempt property or pay to keep it, depending on whether you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. Here's how it works.

In Chapter 7, the bankruptcy trustee sells nonexempt property and distributes the proceeds to creditors. In Chapter 13, filers pay the value of the nonexempt property to unsecured creditors. Learn about secured and unsecured debt in bankruptcy.

The procedural differences are necessary because filers can keep all property in Chapter 13 but not in Chapter 7. Without different systems, creditors would receive less in Chapter 13 than in a Chapter 7 case.

Example. Suppose you couldn't exempt a motorcycle in Chapter 7, and the Chapter 7 trustee sold it and paid unsecured creditors $10,000 after deducting sales costs. If you filed for Chapter 13, you'd pay unsecured creditors at least $10,000 through the Chapter 13 repayment plan to keep the motorcycle.

What Are the Differences Between Chapters 7 and 13 Bankruptcy?

Chapter 7 works for people who can't afford to repay creditors. Chapter 13 filers typically earn too much to qualify for Chapter 7 and must pay into a five-year repayment plan. Before filing for bankruptcy, you'll take a "means test" to determine whether you qualify for Chapter 7 or 13.

Occasionally, people qualifying for Chapter 7 file for Chapter 13 to prevent a home foreclosure, car repossession, or wage garnishment. The Chapter 13 plan allows the filer to catch up on back payments over time, a benefit not available in Chapter 7.

How Long Does it Take to File for Bankruptcy in Oklahoma?

Most Chapter 7 cases close after four months, although the Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee sometimes needs additional time to sell property or resolve a dispute. Chapter 13 cases take three to five years to complete.

How Long Do I Have to Live in Oklahoma Before I Can Use Its Bankruptcy Exemptions?

You can file for bankruptcy in Oklahoma after living there for over 180 days. However, you must live in Oklahoma for at least 730 days before using Oklahoma exemptions. Otherwise, you'd use the previous state's exemptions.

Suppose you hadn't lived in one state for two years before filing. In that case, you'd use the exemptions of the state you lived in the longest during the 180 days before the two years immediately preceding your filing. (11 U.S.C. § 522(b)(3)(A).)

More rules exist, including requirements for multiple bankruptcy filings. Find out more about filing for bankruptcy after moving to a new state and who can and can't file for bankruptcy.

How Can I Avoid Bankruptcy Exemption Problems in Oklahoma?

If you don't exempt your property carefully, you could lose it. Answers to these questions might help you steer clear of typical issues.

Do I automatically get to keep my exempt property? Generally, no. Here's the procedure you'll need to follow: Select the exemption set that best protects your property, list the exempt assets and applicable exemption laws on Schedule C: The Property You Claim as Exempt, and file it with your other required paperwork.

Will someone check my bankruptcy exemptions? The bankruptcy trustee, the court-appointed official tasked with managing your case, will review Schedule C to ensure you have the right to protect the claimed property. A trustee who disagrees with your exemptions will file an objection with the court. The judge will decide whether you can keep the property.

Example. Jeff owns a rare, classic car worth $15,000, but the state vehicle exemption will only partially protect it. Believing that the car qualifies as art, Jeff exempts it using his state's unlimited artwork exemption. The trustee reviews Schedule C, disagrees with Jeff's characterization, and files an objection with the court. After consideration, the judge will likely side with the trustee, determining that the vehicle doesn't qualify as a piece of art.

What Will Happen If I Make an Exemption Mistake in Oklahoma?

Most trustees will likely try to work out the matter informally by discussing it at the 341 meeting of creditors or by phone or email. If you can't resolve the problem, the trustee will file a motion with the bankruptcy court.

It's worth noting that it's not a good idea to finesse exemptions. Not only are you obligated to supply correct information on your bankruptcy forms, but purposefully making inaccurate statements could be fraudulent. Bankruptcy fraud is punishable by up to $250,000, 20 years in prison, or both.

Should I Hire a Lawyer to Help With Bankruptcy Exemptions in Oklahoma?

Chapter 13 bankruptcy filers will almost always want to hire a bankruptcy lawyer. Chapter 13 is too complicated for most people to navigate successfully.

Chapter 7 filers also benefit from hiring a bankruptcy lawyer. Still, it's more feasible to represent yourself if you have a relatively simple Chapter 7 case. But you should know that Chapter 7 filers can't dismiss a Chapter 7 matter without court approval, so it's prudent to consult a bankruptcy lawyer about potential issues. The extra step could help prevent unexpected property loss.

How Much Does It Cost to File for Bankruptcy in Oklahoma?

You can expect to pay $1,500 to $2,500 for the average Chapter 7 case and more for a Chapter 13 matter. Bankruptcy lawyers with more experience will charge higher fees than those practicing in large cities because of the costs associated with doing business.

Even so, most bankruptcy matters won't require a top-tier lawyer. But because of the specialized nature of bankruptcy rules, you will want someone who has filed many cases.

At the time of writing, filing fees are $338 for Chapter 7 and $313 for Chapter 13, and costs for mandatory credit counseling and debt management courses run $50 to $75.

Can I Make Payments to My Bankruptcy Lawyer?

No, not in a Chapter 7 case. Chapter 7 lawyers won't file your matter before you've paid in full because the bankruptcy court would erase any outstanding balance with other dischargeable debts. You can pay Chapter 13 attorneys' fees in installments through the Chapter 13 plan.

Need More Bankruptcy Help?

Did you know Nolo has made the law easy for over fifty years? It's true, and we want to ensure you find what you need. Below, you'll find more articles explaining bankruptcy and how it works. And don't forget that our bankruptcy homepage is the best place to start if you have other questions!

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We wholeheartedly encourage research and learning, but online articles can't address all bankruptcy issues or the facts of your case. The best way to protect your assets in bankruptcy is by hiring a local bankruptcy lawyer.

Updated October 3, 2023

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