Where do I Find the Utah Property Exemptions?

What is the purpose of Exemptions?

Put simply, exemptions are what property you are allowed to keep from creditors no matter what (except for rare circumstances).  If you are asking this question you have probably done some research already and know that each state has its own exemptions.  These exemptions apply to creditors trying to enforce their judgments in and outside of bankruptcy.  In other words, if you have a car worth $2,500 and a creditor with a judgment, the creditor could never have your car sold to pay against the judgment.

Where do I find the Utah Exemptions?

Good question, they are hard to find after the new codification of the Utah Code that occurred around 4 years ago, but they start in 78B-5-501, Utah State Code.  The most notable ones are the $20,000 homestead exemption, unlimited clothes exemption (essentially), $2,500 car exemption. For your convenience, they are mostly included below:

78B-5-503. Homestead exemption — Definitions — Excepted obligations — Water rights and interests — Conveyance — Sale and disposition — Property right for federal tax purposes.

(1) For purposes of this section:
(a) “Household” means a group of persons related by blood or marriage living together in the same dwelling as an economic unit, sharing furnishings, facilities, accommodations, and expenses.
(b) “Mobile home” is as defined in Section 57-16-3.
(c) “Primary personal residence” means a dwelling or mobile home, and the land surrounding it, not exceeding one acre, as is reasonably necessary for the use of the dwelling or mobile home, in which the individual and the individual’s household reside.
(d) “Property” means:
(i) a primary personal residence;
(ii) real property; or
(iii) an equitable interest in real property awarded to a person in a divorce decree by a court.
(2) (a) An individual is entitled to a homestead exemption consisting of property in this state in an amount not exceeding:
(i) $5,000 in value if the property consists in whole or in part of property which is not the primary personal residence of the individual; or
(ii) $20,000 in value if the property claimed is the primary personal residence of the individual.
(b) If the property claimed as exempt is jointly owned, each joint owner is entitled to a homestead exemption; however
(i) for property exempt under Subsection (2)(a)(i), the maximum exemption may not exceed $10,000 per household; or
(ii) for property exempt under Subsection (2)(a)(ii), the maximum exemption may not exceed $40,000 per household.
(c) A person may claim a homestead exemption in either or both of the following:
(i) one or more parcels of real property together with appurtenances and improvements; or
(ii) a mobile home in which the claimant resides.
(d) A person may not claim a homestead exemption for property that the person acquired as a result of criminal activity.
(3) A homestead is exempt from judicial lien and from levy, execution, or forced sale except for:
(a) statutory liens for property taxes and assessments on the property;
(b) security interests in the property and judicial liens for debts created for the purchase price of the property;
(c) judicial liens obtained on debts created by failure to provide support or maintenance for dependent children; and
(d) consensual liens obtained on debts created by mutual contract.
(4) (a) Except as provided in Subsection (4)(b), water rights and interests, either in the form of corporate stock or otherwise, owned by the homestead claimant are exempt from execution to the extent that those rights and interests are necessarily employed in supplying water to the homestead for domestic and irrigating purposes.
(b) Those water rights and interests are not exempt from calls or assessments and sale by the corporations issuing the stock.
(5) (a) When a homestead is conveyed by the owner of the property, the conveyance may not subject the property to any lien to which it would not be subject in the hands of the owner.
(b) The proceeds of any sale, to the amount of the exemption existing at the time of sale, is exempt from levy, execution, or other process for one year after the receipt of the proceeds by the person entitled to the exemption.
(6) The sale and disposition of one homestead does not prevent the selection or purchase of another.
(7) For purposes of any claim or action for taxes brought by the United States Internal Revenue Service, a homestead exemption claimed on real property in this state is considered to be a property right.

78B-5-504. Declaration of homestead — Filing — Contents — Failure to file — Conveyance by married person — No execution sale if bid less than exemption — Redemption rights of judgment creditor.

An individual may select and claim a homestead by complying with the following requirements:
(1) Filing a signed and acknowledged declaration of homestead with the recorder of the county or counties in which the homestead claimant’s property is located or serving a signed and acknowledged declaration of homestead upon the sheriff or other officer conducting an execution prior to the time stated in the notice of execution.
(2) The declaration of homestead shall contain:
(a) a statement that the claimant is entitled to an exemption and if the claimant is married a statement that the claimant’s spouse has not filed a declaration of homestead;
(b) a description of the property subject to the homestead;
(c) an estimate of the cash value of the property; and
(d) a statement specifying the amount of the homestead claimed and stating the name, age, and address of any spouse and dependents claimed to determine the value of the homestead.
(3) If a declaration of homestead is not filed or served as provided in this section, title shall pass to the purchaser upon execution free and clear of all homestead rights.
(4) If an individual is married, no conveyance of or security interest in, or contract to convey or create a security interest in property recorded as a homestead prior to the time of the conveyance, security interest, or contract is valid, unless both the husband and wife join in the execution of the conveyance, security interest, or contract.
(5) Property that includes a homestead may not be sold at execution if there is no bid which exceeds the amount of the declared homestead exemption.
(6) If property that includes a homestead is sold under execution, the sale is subject to redemption by the judgment debtor as provided in Rule 69C of the Utah Rules of Civil Procedure. If there is a deficiency, the property may not be subject to another execution to cover the deficiency.

78B-5-505.   Property exempt from execution.

(1) (a) An individual is entitled to exemption of the following property:
(i) a burial plot for the individual and the individual’s family;
(ii) health aids reasonably necessary to enable the individual or a dependent to work or sustain health;
(iii) benefits the individual or the individual’s dependent have received or are entitled to receive from any source because of:
(A) disability;
(B) illness; or
(C) unemployment;
(iv) benefits paid or payable for medical, surgical, or hospital care to the extent they are used by an individual or the individual’s dependent to pay for that care;
(v) veterans benefits;
(vi) money or property received, and rights to receive money or property for child support;
(vii) money or property received, and rights to receive money or property for alimony or separate maintenance, to the extent reasonably necessary for the support of the individual and the individual’s dependents;
(viii) (A) one:
(I) clothes washer and dryer;
(II) refrigerator;
(III) freezer;
(IV) stove;
(V) microwave oven; and
(VI) sewing machine;
(B) all carpets in use;
(C) provisions sufficient for 12 months actually provided for individual or family use;
(D) all wearing apparel of every individual and dependent, not including jewelry or furs; and
(E) all beds and bedding for every individual or dependent;
(ix) except for works of art held by the debtor as part of a trade or business, works of art:
(A) depicting the debtor or the debtor and his resident family; or
(B) produced by the debtor or the debtor and his resident family;
(x) proceeds of insurance, a judgment, or a settlement, or other rights accruing as a result of bodily injury of the individual or of the wrongful death or bodily injury of another individual of whom the individual was or is a dependent to the extent that those proceeds are compensatory;
(xi) the proceeds or benefits of any life insurance contracts or policies paid or payable to the debtor or any trust of which the debtor is a beneficiary upon the death of the spouse or children of the debtor, provided that the contract or policy has been owned by the debtor for a continuous unexpired period of one year;
(xii) the proceeds or benefits of any life insurance contracts or policies paid or payable to the spouse or children of the debtor or any trust of which the spouse or children are beneficiaries upon the death of the debtor, provided that the contract or policy has been in existence for a continuous unexpired period of one year;
(xiii) proceeds and avails of any unmatured life insurance contracts owned by the debtor or any revocable grantor trust created by the debtor, excluding any payments made on the contract during the one year immediately preceding a creditor’s levy or execution;
(xiv) except as provided in Subsection (1)(b), any money or other assets held for or payable to the individual as a participant or beneficiary from or an interest of the individual as a participant or beneficiary in a retirement plan or arrangement that is described in Section 401(a), 401(h), 401(k), 403(a), 403(b), 408, 408A, 409, 414(d), or 414(e), Internal Revenue Code; and (xv) the interest of or any money or other assets payable to an alternate payee under a qualified domestic relations order as those terms are defined in Section 414(p), Internal Revenue Code.
(b) The exemption granted by Subsection (1)(a)(xiv) does not apply to:
(i) an alternate payee under a qualified domestic relations order, as those terms are defined in Section 414(p), Internal Revenue Code; or
(ii) amounts contributed or benefits accrued by or on behalf of a debtor within one year before the debtor files for bankruptcy. This may not include amounts directly rolled over from other funds which are exempt from attachment under this section.
(2) The exemptions in Subsections (1)(a)(xi), (xii), and (xiii) do not apply to proceeds and avails of any matured or unmatured life insurance contract assigned or pledged as collateral for repayment of a loan or other legal obligation.
(3) Exemptions under this section do not limit items that may be claimed as exempt under Section 78B-5-506.

78B-5-506.   Value of exempt property — Exemption of implements, professional books, tools, and motor vehicle.

(1) An individual is entitled to exemption of the following property up to an aggregate value of items in each subsection of $500:
(a) sofas, chairs, and related furnishings reasonably necessary for one household;
(b) dining and kitchen tables and chairs reasonably necessary for one household;
(c) animals, books, and musical instruments, if reasonably held for the personal use of the individual or his dependents; and
(d) heirlooms or other items of particular sentimental value to the individual.
(2) An individual is entitled to an exemption, not exceeding $3,500 in aggregate value, of implements, professional books, or tools of his trade.
(3) (a) As used in this Subsection (3), “motor vehicle” does not include any motor vehicle designed for or used primarily for recreational purposes, such as:
(i) an off-highway vehicle as defined in Section 41-22-2, except a motorcycle the individual regularly uses for daily transportation; or
(ii) a recreational vehicle as defined in Section 13-14-102, except a van the individual regularly uses for daily transportation.
(b) An individual is entitled to an exemption, not exceeding $2,500 in value, of one motor vehicle.
(4) This section does not affect property exempt under Section 78B-5-501.

 

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