The South Dakota Homestead Exemption

If you file for bankruptcy in South Dakota, the very generous homestead exemption allows you to protect the entire value of your home, although there are acreage limits.

Most people want to know whether they can keep valuable property before filing for bankruptcy—especially a home. If you qualify to use the South Dakota homestead exemption, you can protect some or all of the equity in your house. In this article, we explain:

  • how much the South Dakota homestead exemption will cover, and
  • how to apply it in your bankruptcy case.

For more bankruptcy information, read Filing for Bankruptcy in South Dakota. 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.

Homestead Exemptions Available in a South Dakota Bankruptcy

In South Dakota, you'll use South Dakota's state exemptions—the federal bankruptcy exemptions aren't available (some states allow residents to choose between the two sets). However, you can supplement South Dakota's state exemptions with the federal nonbankruptcy exemptions.

To help you make an informed choice, we've listed the homestead exemption amount below. We've also included links to the federal and state exemption lists that apply in your case so you'll have an easier time deciding whether bankruptcy will work for you.

If you're married, keep in mind that spouses can double some exemption amounts, but not all. Find out about other filing considerations for spouses.

South Dakota Homestead Exemption

Homestead exemption amount

All equity in a qualifying property that is less than one acre in a town and 160 acres elsewhere.

Can spouses who file a joint bankruptcy double the exemption?

No.

Homestead exemption law

S.D. Codified Laws §§ 43-31-1 through 43-31-5; 43-31-3(1); 43-45-3(1), (2)

Other information

Mobile home included; sales proceeds can be protected ($60,000 if under 70 and $170,000 if over 70 or widowed; amounts subject to change periodically.

Where to find other exemptions.

South Dakota Bankruptcy Exemptions

Federal Nonbankruptcy Exemptions

Property Protected by the South Dakota Homestead Exemption

In South Dakota, homeowners can exempt an unlimited dollar amount of equity in real property, including your home or condominium. However, the South Dakota system does have acreage limitations. If the real property is located within a town, it cannot exceed more than one acre. If it is located anywhere else, it cannot exceed 160 acres.

A mobile home is also covered but it cannot be larger than 240 square feet at the base. Also, it must be registered in South Dakota at least six months before claiming the exemption.

South Dakota has a few other rules that probably don't apply to you, but here they are just in case:

  • If you have two or more houses or mobile homes, you can only select one to keep and exempt as your homestead.
  • If the homestead contains minerals that the United States government has claimed, then the maximum size, outside of a town, is reduced to 40 acres.
  • Gold and silver mines, mills, or smelters, and related machinery cannot be homesteads.
  • To help protect against foreclosure due to delinquent taxes, people over 70 and unmarried surviving spouses can protect up to $170,000 in equity after a sale. People under 70 can protect up to $60,000 in equity.

Timing Your South Dakota Bankruptcy

You can file for bankruptcy in South Dakota after living there for more than 180 days. However, you must live in South Dakota much longer before using South Dakota exemptions—at least 730 days before filing, to be exact. Otherwise, you'd use the previous state's exemptions.

But suppose you lived in multiple states 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.

Also, to claim the total value of the South Dakota homestead exemption, you must have purchased and owned the property for at least 1,215 days before the bankruptcy filing. If you can't meet this requirement, your homestead exemption is limited by federal law to $170,350 (this figure will adjust on April 1, 2022).

Learn more about this requirement, the current amount of the federal cap, and other important exceptions to homestead exemptions.

Claiming the South Dakota Bankruptcy Homestead Exemption

In South Dakota, the homestead exemption is automatic—you don't have to file a homestead declaration with the recorder's office to claim the homestead exemption in bankruptcy. Instead, when filing for bankruptcy, you'll list your homestead exemption on Schedule C: The Property You Claim as Exempt when completing your bankruptcy forms. You can find out about other requirements you'll need to meet in Your Home in Chapter 7 or Your Home in Chapter 13.

Finding the South Dakota Bankruptcy Homestead Exemption Statute

You'll find South Dakota's homestead exemption in the South Dakota Codified Laws at §§ 43-31-1 through 43-31-5, 43-31-3(1), and 43-45-3(1), (2) on the South Dakota Legislature website but the best way to protect your assets is by consulting with a local bankruptcy lawyer.

Need More Help?

You might not know this, but Nolo has been making the law easy for DIYers for over fifty years. If you have questions, use the links we've included throughout for more details. Otherwise, you'll find the answers to almost all of your bankruptcy questions at nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/bankruptcy. You can also learn about finding state laws and doing legal research.

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 August 9, 2021

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