A Brief Guide to Utah Bankruptcy Exemptions

When you file for bankruptcy in Utah, you naturally want to keep as many of your assets as the law permits. Utah has bankruptcy exemptions that protect certain property and/or let you keep assets up to a certain dollar amount.

The exemption rules available to you will vary depending on which chapter you file. With Chapter 7, all non-exempt assets and property that exceeds an exemption amount can be taken and sold to satisfy creditors while Chapter 13 allows you to retain all property but repay your creditors for anything that is not exempt.

In Utah, the state bankruptcy exemptions include:

Homestead

  • Up to $30,000 for your homestead/primary personal residence
  • Up to $5,000 for property where you do not primarily reside

Personal Property

  • Up to $1,000 in animals, musical instruments, and books
  • Up to $1,000 in chairs, sofas, and similar furniture
  • Up to $1,000 in kitchen and/or dining room tables and chairs
  • Up to $1,000 in heirlooms and items with sentimental value
  • Up to $250 in firearms
  • A burial plot for the debtor and their family
  • Beds, bedding, and carpets
  • Artwork depicting or produced by a family member
  • Personal clothing (does not include furs or jewelry)
  • Enough food to last one year
  • Health aids
  • Proceeds from personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits for the debtor or someone they depended on
  • The following appliances: refrigerator, freezer, stove, microwave, sewing machine, washer, and dryer
  • Proceeds from exempt property that has been sold, lost, or damaged

Motor Vehicles

  • Up to $3,000 in a motor vehicle (does not include recreational vehicles)

Tools of the Trade

  • Up to $5,000 in value for tools, books, and other implements of trade

Pensions

  • Tax exempt retirement accounts
  • IRAS and Roth IRAs valued at up to $1,283,025
  • Erisa-qualified benefits
  • Other pensions and annuities required for support

Public Benefits

  • Public benefits such as unemployment, disability, and social security
  • Crime victims’ compensation
  • Veteran’s benefits
  • Workers’ compensation

Insurance

  • Fraternal benefit society benefits
  • Disability, illness, medical, surgical, or hospital benefits
  • The cash surrender value of life insurance policy
  • Life insurance proceeds if the beneficiary is the debtor’s spouse or dependent

Federal Exemption Availability

Unlike some states, Utah does not allow you to choose between state and federal exemptions. You must use state exemptions only, but there are federal non-bankruptcy exemptions that you may use to protect property such as veteran’s benefits and federal retirement accounts. In this instance you can use both state bankruptcy and federal non-bankruptcy exemptions: you don’t have to choose between the two.

Bankruptcy Exemptions for Married Couples

If you are married and filing for bankruptcy along with your spouse, you can double the allowable exemption amount if the property is owned by both of you. If it only belongs to one of you, the amount cannot be doubled.

If you are planning to file for Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy in Utah and have concerns about losing your property, contact the attorneys at Arnold, Wadsworth & Coggins today. We can help you determine whether or not an asset is exempt according to Utah bankruptcy law and in many instances convert it into exempt property, so that you get the fresh start you need while losses are minimized.

Written by Arnold Wadsworth Coggins

Arnold, Wadsworth & Coggins Attorneys is a premier Utah law firm serving the Wasatch Front in the areas of family law, bankruptcy, criminal law, and civil litigation. Our attorneys provide clients with exceptional legal representation and personal attention. With over 35 years of trial practice and litigation experience, we bring big firm expertise at affordable rates