Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to give up all your personal property if you file for bankruptcy. North Carolina has established exemptions that cover the items you can retain in a bankruptcy filing.

If you have debt you cannot afford to repay, review some of the commonly used bankruptcy exemptions in North Carolina.

Homestead exemption

You can keep $35,000 in equity in your primary residence or $60,000 if you are age 65 or older. If you do not own a home, you can use the homestead exemption to cover burial plots worth up to $35,000.

Personal property exemptions

In addition to your homestead, useful North Carolina exemptions include:

  • Motor vehicle equity up to $3,500
  • Furniture, books, appliances, household goods and clothing up to $5,000 plus $1,000 per dependent up to $4,000
  • College savings accounts up to $25,000 except contributions from the 12 months before filing for bankruptcy
  • Medical devices prescribed by a doctor
  • Equipment, tools and books for your trade valued up to $2,000

Financial bankruptcy exemptions in North Carolina include unpaid wages for the two months before you file for bankruptcy, workers’ compensation, unemployment benefits, crime victim compensation awards, veteran benefits, Social Security benefits, life insurance benefits, court-ordered child support and spousal support, wrongful death and personal injury compensation, and tax-exempt retirement accounts and pensions.

While some states allow filers to use the federal bankruptcy exemptions, North Carolina does not. However, if you and your spouse file for bankruptcy together you can double the exemption amounts.