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What personal property is safe under the federal exemption?

If you are a Pennsylvania resident struggling with overwhelming debt, you might be considering a chapter 7 bankruptcy. Your question regarding exemptions is a common one among those who have never faced bankruptcy before. While you no doubt want to get out from under your debt, you are rightly concerned about losing everything you have worked your lifetime to build. For many people, choosing the federal exemption is the right way to go as it allows you to hold on to a portion of your personal property.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy can be a powerful tool Pennsylvania citizens can use to discharge out-of-control medical bills, credit card debt and other types of debt. It is important to know that the laws governing bankruptcy are in place to treat you fairly, not to take every single thing you own away from you. Under the federal exemption, you are allowed to keep certain household goods, meaning some of your personal property. Examples of what you can keep include clothing, kitchen items, medical supplies, medical equipment and certain personal effects.

Most bankruptcies allow you to keep items needed for minor children such as furniture, educational materials or equipment and toys or hobby materials. You may also keep one instance of the following items:

-- One radio

-- One television

-- One personal computer

-- One VCR

You should also understand that valuable works of art, antiques, valuable jewelry and high value electronic equipment does not fall into the household goods category.

It sounds as if you have decided that the federal exemption is your best bet. Hopefully, you have arrived at this decision based on research and careful consideration. However, it might be in your best interests to consult with a lawyer to make sure you qualify for the federal exemption and to discuss Pennsylvania laws concerning chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Source: Cornell University Law School, "U.S. Code § 522 - Exemptions," accessed May 24, 2016

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