Doubling your bankruptcy exemptions — is it double the trouble or double the good?  What does it all mean?

Doubling bankruptcy exemptions means that you and your spouse can each take the full allowed amount of the exemption on the same piece of property, so long as you own the property jointly.

Here’s an example — Harry and Wilma are married.  They file a joint bankruptcy case.  They own a car and a house together, but Harry went out and fulfilled his life long dream of owning his own boat.  And that boat is only in his name.  Harry and Wilma can both claim the full exemption amount on the house and car (doubling), but only Harry can claim an exemption on the boat.

Now bankruptcy law is federal law, and the federal law provides a list of exemptions, and also allows doubling.  Each state has its own exemption laws as well (typically most NJ debtors use the federal because the NJ state exemptions provide zero on a primary residence) and whether or not you can double will depend on state law.  And still some states will allow you to double some, but not all, exemptions.

If you have questions on how exemptions will apply to you, it is worthwhile to speak with a bankruptcy attorney, because you want to make sure you get the best treatment possible under the laws.

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