Can I keep my car or home?

Yes, you can do so by entering into a reaffirmation agreement with the secured lender requiring you to continue paying on the secured property which is not dischargeable, unlike most unsecured property, in bankruptcy court.  If your property is secured through a loan that you plan to continue paying down, you can choose to keep that property.  Exemption limits are governed by Federal and State Statue, as discussed below, and do apply to the equity you have in certain items of property.  If for example, you have a car loan, the equity value is determined by calculating the difference between the amounts owed and fair market value of your vehicle. The amount left over is your equity that you may protect from creditors through allowed bankruptcy exemptions, depending on the total amount of equity.  Remember, you can only file and receive a discharge of your debts, as allowed under Chapter 7, once every 8 years.

There are two primary systems under California Code of Civil Procedure for exemptions.  Each system has different qualifications for what can be exempted and the equity amount authorized in terms of homestead, personal property, insurance, pensions, and other types of property.  System one allows higher levels of exemptions on homestead and jewelry, for example; but you should consult directly with  the Oakland Bankruptcy Lawyer about which system of exemptions are best suited for you, should you decide to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in California.

There are also Federal exemptions under the Bankruptcy Code that you can elect to protect your exempt property in bankruptcy, such as, social security benefits, pensions, retirement fund, death, and disability benefits for public service.  There are very specific rules about what qualifies for these exemptions.  Make a list of your personal property (or joint, if filing as a married couple), and consult with your Oakland Bankruptcy Attorney to determine what qualifies as an exemption.  And, remember the initial consultation (telephone) is free of charge.