Updated May 20, 2016
If you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Utah, the Utah bankruptcy exemptions can help you keep some or all of your property. If you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the Utah bankruptcy exemptions may reduce the total amount you must pay your unsecured creditors. (Learn how bankruptcy exemptions work in both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy.)
Below you can learn what property the Utah bankruptcy exemptions protect, whether you can use the federal exemptions in Utah, what happens to exemptions if you are married and filing jointly, and more.
Some states allow you to choose between using the state exemptions and a list of federal bankruptcy exemptions. In Utah, however, you do not have this choice; you must use the Utah bankruptcy exemptions.
Although you can’t use the federal exemptions in Utah, you may use any of the federal non-bankruptcy exemptions. The federal non-bankruptcy exemptions protect property such as federal retirement accounts and veterans’ benefits. You can use both the federal non-bankruptcy exemptions and the state exemptions; you don’t have to choose between the two lists.
Unless otherwise stated, if you are married and filing a joint bankruptcy petition, you can double the amount of the Utah bankruptcy exemption if you both own the property. If only one spouse owns the property, then you cannot double the amount.
Below are some of the most commonly used bankruptcy exemptions. The statute citations, unless otherwise noted, are to the Utah Code.
In Utah, you can exempt up to $30,000 of the equity in any real estate if it’s your primary residence, including your home, mobile home, or any water rights you have. You can exempt up to $5,000 in real estate that is not your primary residence. (Learn more in The Utah Homestead Exemption.) §78B-5-504
In Utah, you can exempt the following types of personal property. §78B-5-505 and §78B-5-506
In Utah, you can exempt up to $5,000 of equity in a car, van, motorcycle, truck, SUV, or other motor vehicle. (To learn more, see The Utah Motor Vehicle Exemption.)
Tax exempt retirement accounts (including 401(k)s, 403(b)s, profit-sharing and money purchase plans, SEP and SIMPLE IRAs, and defined benefit plans). 11 U.S.C. § 522.
IRAS and Roth IRAs to $1,283,025. (This amount is adjusted every three years. For the most recent figure, see Your Retirement Account in Bankruptcy.) 11 U.S.C. § 522(b)(3)(C)(n); §15-41-30(A)(13)
Erisa-qualified benefits, IRAs, Roth IRA, if the benefits have accrued or the contributions were made at least one year before you filed for bankruptcy. §78B-5-505(1)(a)(xiv)
Other pensions and annuities that you need for support. §78-23-6(3)
Public employees. §49-11-612
Crime victims’ compensation. §63-25a-421(4)
General assistance. §35A-3-112
Occupational disease disability benefits. §34A-3-107
Unemployment compensation. §34A-3-103(4)(b)
Veteran’s benefits. §78B-5-505(1)(a)(v)
Workers' compensation. §34A-2-422
Tools, books, and implements used in your trade or profession, up to $5,000. §78B-5-506(2)
Earnings to the lesser of (1) 75% of disposable income, or (2) 37 times the federal minimum wage per week. R. Civ. Proc., Rule 64D(a)
Unpaid earnings due as of the bankruptcy filing in an amount equal to 1/24 of the median Utah annual income if you are paid more than once per month and 1/12 if you are paid monthly. §78B-5-505(1)(a)(xvi)
Disability, illness, medical, surgical, or hospital benefits. §78B-5-505(1)(a)(iii) and (iv)
Fraternal benefit society benefits. §31A-9-603
Life insurance policy cash surrender value, but not payments you’ve made on policy within the year before filing. §78B-5-505(1)(a)(xiii)
Life insurance proceeds if the beneficiary is the insured’s spouse or dependent and if the proceeds are needed for support. §78B-5-505(1)(a)(xi)
Alimony that you need for support. §78B-5-505(1)(vi) and (vii)
This list includes some of the more commonly used Utah bankruptcy exemptions. There may be others. In addition, Utah periodically updates its exemption amounts and sometimes adds new exemptions. To find the most current laws, visit the Utah Code. Be forewarned, however, that the exemptions are found in various parts of the code. To save time and ensure you’ve got the correct information, consider consulting with a Utah bankruptcy attorney.