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What exemptions can I take for my cars in a Chapter 7 when my wife also filed a separate bankruptcy and got discharged?

San Francisco, CA |

I am thinking of filing for bankruptcy because I am being sued for an old credit card and also my home is going into foreclosure. My wife already got a discharge in Chapter 7. Since she filed separately and on Schedule C checked 11 USC 522(b)(3), am I entitled only to half of that and can I choose the wildcard exemption instead to exempt my cars or must I choose the same exemption? I have a car I use for work, a 1986 sedan that my wife uses, and a 2002 family SUV that we use for trips. Would I be able to keep these other two cars or must I surrender it to the bankruptcy estate?

there are no liens on the cars

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Attorney answers 3


In the cases I have seen where spouses file separately, each may claim the allowed exemptions. When spouses file jointly, many of the exemption amounts double.

Hope this perspective helps!


You should get an experienced attorney to review this matter. The attorney will have to understand all your property and review your wife's BK papers in order to determine what exemptions you should use.

Get an attorney.

Bradford Calvin


You can use the California set of exemptions that best suits you as long as you and your wife are friendly enough that she'd be willing to sign the required waiver (only for the duration of your bankruptcy case) for you to be able to use the "wildcard" set of exemptions. Regarding what you could or could not keep, that's depends on things like loans on the cars, other assets, etc. You definitely should consult with a qualified bankruptcy attorney in your area.

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