Written by attorney Diane L Gruber

Oregon: Assets protected in bankruptcy

Chapter 7 debtors are allowed to retain certain assets so long as their equity does not exceed certain values. If the asset does exceed the protected value (called exemptions), the trustee will either require you to pay him the excess value, OR the trustee will take the asset, sell it, give you the amount of the exemption and give the remaining funds to your creditors.

Car, Truck, Motorcycle: ORS 18.345(1)(d) Each debtor is allowed only $3000 equity in one vehicle. Married debtors are each allowed $3000 per vehicle, two vehicles only ($6000).

Cash, bank balances: ORS 18.345(1)(o) Debtor may have a cash exemption up to $400 on hand, in checking, savings, or other financial accounts upon filing for bankruptcy. Any amount that exceeds $400 is to be considered an unsecured asset and will be taken and distributed to your creditors. Married debtors are allowed $800.

House: ORS 18.395 This is a homestead exemption for your place of residence. If your equity is $40,000 or less you can keep your house. When two or more members of a household are debtors, their combined exemption is $50,000.

Mobile Home: ORS 18.428 The Mobile Home exemption exists only when the mobile home is the sole residence of the debtor. The exemption is $40,000, except when two or more members of the household are debtors, the exemption is $50,000.

Tax Refunds: Any amount in taxes owed to the debtor is not exempt. All real tax refunds are not exempt, including the current year’s. EITC, ORS 18.345(1)(n) Earned Income Tax Credit is totally exempt.


Household goods and furnishings: ORS 18.345(1)(f) Property used for personal, family or household use, which include items like refrigerator, oven, W/D, furniture, radios, television set, and computer equipment, are exempt to the total value of $3000. The value is based upon a reasonable “yard sale" price, not a replacement cost.

Clothes, etc.: ORS 18.345(1)(b) Wearing apparel like furs, rings, earrings, necklaces, & bracelets are exempt to a value of $1800. When a couple is filing, the exemption is $3600.

Books, pictures, collections, etc.: ORS 18.345(1)(a) Books, pictures, musical instruments, art objects, antiques, stamp, coin, and other collections are exempt up to the total value of $600. When a couple is filing together, their combined exemptions shall not exceed $1200.

Salary and Wages Owed: ORS 18.385 Seventy-five percent (75%) of money owed to you by an employer on the date of filing is exempt. The remaining 25% is not protected.

Pets, animals: ORS 18.345(1)(e) Pets and other animals (i.e., poultry) kept for family use are exempt to the total value of $1000.

Personal Injury Money: ORS 18.345(1)(k) Money that is traceable directly from a personal injury settlement are exempt to the total value of $10,000. Thus, any money that has been awarded in excess of $10,000, is not protected.

Life Insurance: ORS 743.046 Life Insurance without cash value is exempt. Life Insurance with cash value is sometimes exempt.

Tools of Trade: ORS 18.345(1)(c) Tools and equipment necessary for the debtor to carry on the trade, occupation or profession by which the debtor earns a living are exempt to $3000. When a couple is filing together, and they both have a trade, occupation or profession, each can claim this exemption.

Firearms: ORS 18.362 Those debtors who are in possession of firearms shall be entitled to keep one rifle or one shotgun, and one pistol, for total exemption of $1000.

Accounts receivable: If anyone owes you money, including a judgment creditor, friend, relative, it will not be protected. In order words, the trustee will require payment to the court.

401K Plan, IRAs Pensions, etc.: ORS 18.358 Regardless of the balance or value of the plan, all money, stocks, bonds, etc. that are inside a tax-qualified retirement account is exempt.

This is a brief explanation of most of the exemptions that are allowed under Oregon’s exemptions statutes. Exemptions are a complex area of bankruptcy law and you should not rely upon this summary without a legal consultation. A comprehensive evaluation by our office is needed before you can be sure your assets will be protected during your bankruptcy.

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