Maximize Your Bankruptcy Wildcard Exemption

Filing for bankruptcy can be daunting, but understanding and utilizing the federal wildcard exemption can help protect your assets. Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows you to discharge most of your debts while keeping some exempt property. One such exemption is the federal wildcard exemption, currently $15,425.(May 2023)

How Does the Federal Wildcard Exemption Work?

The federal wildcard exemption (11 U.S.C. § 522(d)(5)) permits you to safeguard any property up to a specific value from being liquidated by the bankruptcy trustee. This exemption permits you to safeguard possessions worth up to $15,425 from being liquidated in bankruptcy.  Other exemptions can be used, but the wildcard protects any property that could not be exempted using other exemptions.

Tips for Maximizing Your Wildcard Exemption:

  • Evaluate your assets: Before filing for bankruptcy, inventory all your possessions and their estimated values to know which items are eligible for protection under this exemption.
  • Prioritize important items: If possible, prioritize protecting essential belongings like clothing or household goods over nonessential items like luxury electronics or expensive jewelry.
  • Contact an experienced attorney: A knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney, such as those at the Law Office of William Waldner, can guide you through this complex process and ensure you maximize your exemptions effectively.

It’s important to note that the federal wildcard exemption is only available in some states, including New York. Additionally, each state has bankruptcy exemptions, which may be more beneficial depending on your circumstances. Regardless, you can only choose the federal or state exemptions; you cannot mix and match.  A local bankruptcy lawyer can help determine which exemptions work best for you.

Other common bankruptcy exemptions include the homestead exemption, which protects your primary residence up to a specific value, and the motor vehicle exemption, which protects one or more vehicles up to a specific value. The bankruptcy code also allows for exemptions for personal property, such as clothing, furniture, and appliances.

By maximizing your bankruptcy wildcard exemption, you can protect a significant portion of your assets from creditors. Married couples filing jointly can double the wildcard exemption.

Double Your Wildcard Exemption

If you’re a married couple filing for bankruptcy, there’s good news: you can double your wildcard exemption and protect even more of your joint assets from creditors. This means that instead of the standard federal wildcard exemption amount of $15,425 per person, couples can enjoy an increased limit of up to $30,850.  Please note that to get the full benefit of the doubled exemption, both spouses must own the property together.

Both spouses must file for bankruptcy jointly to take advantage of this doubled exemption.

Know Your State Laws: It’s essential to research and understand how your state handles exemptions in bankruptcy cases. Some states allow filers to choose between federal and state exemptions, while others require them to use only their specific state exemptions.

  • Talk To A Bankruptcy Attorney: Consult with an experienced attorney specializing in consumer bankruptcy law like those at the Law Office of William Waldner. They can help guide you through the process and ensure that you maximize all available exemptions.
  • Create An Inventory Of Assets: Before filing for bankruptcy as a couple, ensure both spouses clearly understand their assets. Hence, they know which items are protected by the wildcard exemption.

In summary, doubling your wildcard exemption is an excellent way for married couples facing financial difficulties to safeguard more possessions during their journey toward debt relief. By working with legal professionals and staying informed about applicable laws, bankruptcy issues can be resolved, and property can be protected.

Doubling your wildcard exemption can help shield more of your resources and raise the probability that you’ll be able to retain them. Taking advantage of state-specific exemptions is a great way to maximize protection for yourself and ensure all your possessions are safe in the Bankruptcy process.

Take Advantage of State Wildcard Exemptions

When filing for bankruptcy, familiarize yourself with the wildcard exemptions available in your state, which may help protect your assets and allow you to keep more possessions. While some states allow you to use the generous federal wildcard exemption, others have their state-specific wildcard exemptions. Creditors may not be able to seize certain assets during bankruptcy proceedings, thanks to available exemptions.

  • Research Your State’s Exemption Laws: Before filing for bankruptcy, research your state’s specific laws regarding exemptions. You can find this information on reputable legal websites or consult an experienced bankruptcy attorney.

Taking advantage of these additional state-specific provisions can significantly impact how much property you’ll be able to retain after completing the bankruptcy process. Consult an experienced bankruptcy attorney who can help you navigate the complex world of exemptions and ensure your assets are protected to the fullest extent possible.

FAQs about Bankruptcy Wildcard Exemption

What is the New York bankruptcy wildcard exemption?

The New York bankruptcy wildcard exemption allows debtors to protect up to $1,175 worth of personal property or cash when filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. This exemption can be combined with other exemptions if not fully utilized. For more information on New York’s exemptions, visit New York Courts’ Bankruptcy Exemption page.  NY also allows the use of Federal Bankruptcy Exemptions.

Which states have opted out of federal bankruptcy exemptions?

Some states have chosen not to allow residents access to federal exemptions when filing for bankruptcy, instead opting for their own set of rules and allowances, which include Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, and Massachusetts.


By maximizing your federal and state exemptions, you may be able to keep more of your property and avoid losing it to creditors. It is wise to contact a bankruptcy attorney near you for guidance through the process to benefit from all accessible exemptions.

If you’re facing financial difficulties and considering bankruptcy, don’t hesitate to contact the Law Office of William Waldner for assistance. Our team of experienced professionals can provide personalized guidance on navigating the complex world of bankruptcy law. Contact us today at to learn more.

Bankruptcy exemptions allow you to protect certain assets from being sold to pay creditors. The wildcard exemption is a type of exemption that can be used to protect any property that isn’t covered by other exemptions. This can include personal property, such as jewelry or electronics, or even equity in your home.

Federal and state wildcard exemptions are available, and the exemption amount can vary depending on where you live. In some cases, you may be able to use both the federal and state wildcard exemptions to protect your property.

In addition to the wildcard exemption, other exemptions are available, such as the homestead exemption, which can be used to protect the equity in your home, and the motor vehicle exemption, which can be used to protect the value of your car or truck.

It’s important to note that bankruptcy exemptions are not unlimited. There are limits to the amount of property you can protect using exemptions, and if you have a lot of assets, you may still be required to sell some of them to pay your creditors.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a type of bankruptcy that involves selling your assets to pay your creditors. However, exemptions can protect some or all of your property from being sold. A Chapter 7 trustee will be appointed to oversee the sale of your assets and distribute the proceeds to your creditors.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a type of bankruptcy that involves creating a repayment plan to pay your creditors over three to five years. Exemptions can be used to protect your property while you make payments to your creditors. Any remaining unsecured debt may be discharged at the end of the repayment period.

If you’re considering bankruptcy, working with a qualified lawyer is important to help you understand your options and protect your property. The Law Office of William Waldner can guide to navigate the bankruptcy process and protect your assets. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.