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If you have no real assets, but a lot of debt, which california exemption system is best 1 or 2 for chapter 7

Oakland, CA |

Not sure which California exemption system to use1 or 2. The value of the few assets I have will be exempt.

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Attorney answers 4


I don't use the "1" and "2" labels for the two California sets of exemptions because it's to easy to mix up those names since they don't refer to anything specific. I use the 703 and 704 labels, which refer to the sections of the California code that contain them. The 703 set is the one that contains the "wildcard" exemption of $23,250 that's available if you don't need to exempt a home (your situation). Use can use that $23,250 exemption for anything or any combination of things, including to add additional exemption amounts to specific exemptions like for your car so it's all exempted.

As other answers have said, exemptions are a tricky subject, as is all of bankruptcy, and you'd be well advised to use an experienced bankruptcy attorney in your area.

This reply does not constitute legal advice or establish an attorney-client relationship.


You should retain bankruptcy counsel to help you with your petition and schedules. Otherwise, there is a substantial likelihood you will make a costly mistake. This is just the first of many questions you will have. The modest fee most attorneys charge for a simple Chapter 7 is well worth it.

The exemption schedule you choose will depend on the nature and value of each asset. That being said, if you do not own real estate and therefore do not need to claim a substantial homestead exemption, generally the wildcard exemption provided in Code of Civil Procedure section 703.140(5) and the other exemptions provided in 703.140 provide the greatest protection of your assets.

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Michael Raymond Daymude

Michael Raymond Daymude


I feel I should make a comment. My answer, and those of my colleagues, assumes you are entitled to use CA exemptions. Depending on your residence the last two years, you may be required to use federal or another state's exemptions. Again, I urge you to retain local counsel. Either Ms. Dowe or Mr. Ruthven would be excellent choices for you to consider, neither is that far from Oakland.



Yes, I am entitled to the California exemptions my residencey has been intact for several years. I so appreciate all the lawyers who take the time to answer these questions and give their professional advice to people like me with little knowledge of the law. I have asked many questions regarding my situation and the one consistent answer has been, "hire an attorney." I absolutely understand that would be the best thing to do, but when you have zero money and facing two judgement lawsuites, I do not see where that is an option. I'm yet to find a pro bono bankruptcy attorney. It suckes being poor. Thank you for your answer and comment.

Michael Raymond Daymude

Michael Raymond Daymude


Your local bankruptcy court should have self-help assistance -- volunteer attorneys who provide walk-in self help assistance in Chapter 7 cases. Hopefully, the judgments you speak of are dischargeable and you do not make an error which would prevent you from obtaining a discharge. Good luck.


The fact that you are aware that there are two different exemptions available to you is a good start but as Mr. Raymude explained yu can still make very costly mistake by going this alone. If as you said you haveno real assets then the 703 exemption is your best choice.
The important thing for you to consider is, what exactly are considered assets for bankruptcy purposes. You cannot afford to make a mistake when filing a Chapter 7 case.

Remember that on this forum attorneys try to answer your questions with limited facts available to them. My answer should in no way be considered legal advice. No attorney client relationship has been formed by any answer give here.


The 703 "wildcard" exemption is likely your best choice if you do not have a large amount of equity in your home. The only reason you would need to know this is if you are filing this bankruptcy pro per which is very risky. Given the question you asked above, my advice would be to seek an attorney to prepare your petition to ensure it is done correctly in order to avoid being dismissed.

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