In this article, we’ll discuss Illinois bankruptcy exemptions, how Illinois handles bankruptcy exemptions, and list some of the common bankruptcy exemptions to be aware of if you’re filing for bankruptcy in Illinois.
Filing for bankruptcy in Illinois doesn’t mean you’ll lose everything and end up living in a cardboard box underneath a bridge. The process is designed so that the individual or business owner can get back on their feet and continue living their life in much the same fashion as before but with a newfound understanding of how to avoid debt and better manage monthly expenses. Many of your assets can be exempt from bankruptcy, allowing you to keep your house, car, and business property. What happens to your nonexempt assets depends on the type of bankruptcy that is right for you. For more information check out these articles on filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy versus Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Versus Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Quick Overview
Chapter 7 bankruptcy involves a trustee managing the bankruptcy and working to sell all nonexempt property to settle the creditor’s claims.
In Chapter 13 bankruptcy the trustee does not sell all your nonexempt property but instead helps you work out a “repayment plan” to pay the value of your nonexempt property over a period of up to 5 years.
Depending on the state in which you are filing bankruptcy, you can choose between the state exemptions or federal bankruptcy exemptions; however, Illinois is not one of those states and requires the use of state exemptions or federal non-bankruptcy exemptions where appropriate.
Also, in Illinois, if you are a married couple filing bankruptcy jointly you will be able to double the exemption amount if you both have a ownership interest in the property.
The trustee (the person appointed to handle your bankruptcy case) in your bankruptcy case can deny your exemptions, possibly causing you to lose what may be an exempt asset. The trustee objecting to one or more of your exemptions can occur if you do not exempt your property carefully. Below are some common issues with exemptions you’ll want to avoid.
For the most part, exemptions will include the things you’ll need to continue to be a functioning member of society, such as a home, furnishings, clothing, and some equity in a vehicle. Most items listed beyond that will be objected by the trustee. All the assets you plan to list as exempt should be included on the Schedule C: The Property You Claim As Exempt form.
The bankruptcy trustee assigned to your case will review the Schedule C form and decide which items pass as exempt and which items do not. However, this is not the final ruling as the trustee will pass her objections to the judge who will decide the fate of the potential exemption. Here is where it is important not to lie and to avoid trying to exempt frivolous or unnecessary things. For example, do not try to list something under an exemption category that is questionable for that particular item, such as trying to list an older rare motorcycle as a piece of art.
If you make a mistake when categorizing something in the Schedule C form the trustee will usually try to work through it informally with you before going to the judge. However, if it was clear you were trying to deceive the trustee or if you outright lied (in the case of bankruptcy fraud) you could face a fine of up to $250,000 and 20 years in prison.
This list is not exhaustive and exemptions can change over time. If you are considering bankruptcy it’s advised that you speak with a qualified bankruptcy attorney and see if bankruptcy is the best option for your situation. Bankruptcy can be a painful process, but it doesn’t have to ruin your life. Your attorney can guide you through the process and make sure you get the exemptions your deserve. For more information don’t hesitate to give us a call at 630-324-6666.
We offer free, paid & online consultation in nearly every area of law throughout Illinois and Iowa. We have a range of options to assist you with your legal needs.
O'Flaherty Law is happy to meet with you by phone or at our office locations in: