Periodically, I see debtors who have moved recently to Rochester, New York, or nearby, from another state who wish to file either Chapter 7 Bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. The critical issue in those situations is to determine what state’s bankruptcy exemption laws, if any, will apply.

Under BAPCPA, which passed in 2005, the initial question is how long the debtor has resided in the present state of residence. If the debtor has lived in the same state for the two years prior to filing, then New York’s exemptions will apply. However, if the debtor has moved to New York from another state during the prior two years, then the following rules will apply.

If the debtor resided in the same state for at least 730 calendar days continuously (two years) prior to the filing of the bankruptcy petition, then the debtor can use that state’s exemptions. If the debtor did not live in the current state continuously for at least 730 days, then the debtor must pick the state in which he lived most of the time during the 180 days prior to the 730 days. In other words, the state that must be selected is where the debtor lived most of the time between 2 and 2 ½ years before filing.

If no state qualifies using the above rules (i.e., the debtor has lived in abroad) or if the 180-day state requires current residency or being a domiciliary to use its exemptions, then the debtor must use the federal exemptions. The default rule will only apply if the debtor did not live in any state during the 180 day period that began 730 days before filing, or if the state requires current residency or domiciliary. Under some circumstances, it is advantageous to the debtor to use the federal exemptions since they are typically more generous than New York’s exemptions.

If you contemplating filing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, or are dealing with debt problems in Western New York, including Rochester, Canandaigua, Brighton, Pittsford, Penfield, Perinton, Fairport, Webster, Victor, Farmington, Greece, Gates, Hilton, Parma, Brockport, Spencerport, LeRoy, Chili, Churchville, Monroe County, Ontario County, Wayne County, Orleans County, Livingston County, and being harassed by bill collectors, and would like to know more about how bankruptcy may be able to help you, contact me today by phone or email to schedule a FREE initial consultation with a Rochester, New York, bankruptcy lawyer.