Exempt Property in Bankruptcy under New York State Law

The bankruptcy laws are federal, but the federal law looks to the state law for the bankruptcy exemptions.  Here is a list of most of the property that you will be able to keep after filing for bankruptcy in New York State.  (This list is not exhaustive and may be subject to change as the law changes.  Please consult with my office if you have any questions.)


  • Real property including co-op, condo or mobile home, up to $50,000 in equity (husband & wife filing jointly, up to $100,000)


  • Annuity contract benefits due or prospectively due the debtor, who paid for the contract; purchased the annuity within 6 months prior to filing bankruptcy, and not tax-deferred. Exemption limited to $5,000. Disability or illness benefits of up to $400 per month.
  • Life insurance proceeds left at death under certain conditions.


  • ERISA-qualified benefits needed for support, includes IRAs
  • IRAs needed for support.  Keoghs needed for support
  • Public retirement benefits for state employees
  • Village police officers

Personal Property

  • Bible; schoolbooks; books to $50; pictures; clothing
  • Church pew or seat; stoves with fuel to last 60 days
  • Sewing machine
  • Domestic animal with food to last 60 days, up to $450
  • Furniture; refrigerator; TV; radio; wedding ring; watch to $35; crockery, cooking utensils and tableware needed, up to $5,000 total
  • Burial plot, without structure to 1/4 acre
  • Cash, the lesser of either $2500, or an amount that, with annuity, totals $5000 (in lieu of homestead exemption)
  • Health aids, including animals with food
  • Lost earnings recoveries needed for support
  • Motor vehicle to $2,400
  • Personal injury recoveries to $7500 (not to include pain and suffering)
  • Security deposits to landlord, utility company
  • Trust fund principal, to 90% of income
  • Wrongful death recoveries for person you depended on, needed for support

Public Benefits

  • Government Aid to the blind, aged, disabled, AFDC
  • Crime victims compensation
  • Home relief, local public assistance
  • Social Security
  • Unemployment compensation
  • Veterans benefits
  • Workers compensation

Tools of Your Trade

  • Farm machinery, team, food for 60 days, professional furniture, books & instruments up to $600 total
  • Uniforms, medal, equipments
  • Horse
  • Arms and sword of military member


  • 90% of earnings from milk sales to milk dealers 90% of earned but unpaid wages received within 60 days prior (100% for a few militia members)


  • Alimony, child support needed for support
  • Property of business partnership