Upcoming Changes to New York’s Bankruptcy Exemptions

As readers of this blog know, if a debtor is filing for either Chapter 7 Bankruptcy or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in New York, New York’s bankruptcy exemptions will apply. Unfortunately, those exemptions have not been updated in quite some time and are very limited as far as the values of protected assets is concerned.

There is a bill pending in New York State’s legislature that would substantially change the value of assets that could be protected in bankruptcy by changing the figures included in the Debtor and Creditor Law and CPLR which are the basis of those exemptions.

Specifically, this bill would increase the level of certain exemptions from the satisfaction of a money judgment. In addition to the increases, it would add one computer, one cell phone and one motor vehicle worth up to $4,000 to the list. If such vehicle was equipped for use by a disabled person, the limit would be $10,000. The money judgment exemption for the motor vehicle would not apply if the debt enforced is for child support, spousal support, maintenance or alimony.

It would increase the homestead exemption value of a home under Section 5206 of the CPLR from $50,000 to: $150,000 for the counties of Kings, New York, Queens, Bronx, Richmond, Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland, Westchester, and Putnam; $125,000 for the counties of Dutchess, Albany, Columbia, Orange, Saratoga, and Ulster; $75,000 for the remaining counties in the state.

It would also amend Subdivision I of Section 282 of the Debtor and Creditor Law to increase from $2,400 to $4,000 the exemption for one motor vehicle in bankruptcy. If such vehicle was equipped for use by a disabled person, the limit would be $10,000 in bankruptcy. The bill would amend section 283 of the debtor and creditor law to increase the amount of the aggregate individual bankruptcy exemption from $5,000 to $10,000.

The bill would add a new section 285 to the Debtor and Creditor Law to permit debtors to choose either the current federal exemptions or the exemptions in New York Law. The New York State exemptions are listed in Debtor Creditor Law Art 10-A, Sections 282 and 283. Federal exemptions are enumerated in 11 U.S.C. 522(d). It will apply a Cost of Living Adjustment to be published by the New York Banking Department for the applicable exemptions in sections 5205 and 5206 of the CPLR and Section 282 and 283 of the Debtor and Creditor Law.

If those proposed amendments pass into law, the debtors living in Rochester, and Western New York, would be able to protect an additional $25,000 in home equity per filer and also benefit from an increase in the value of vehicle exemption.

More significantly, the debtors will be able to chose between the New York exemptions or the Federal exemption limits.  At this time, New York does not allow debtors to make this choice. The ability to utilize federal exemptions will help those debtors who do not own a home more than anything else, because there is a wildcard exemption under Federal Rules. The wildcard exemption, 11 U.S.C. 522(d)(5), typically allows the debtor to exempt a substantial amount of cash, which is presently limited under New York’s exemptions to $2,500.

If you are contemplating filing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, or are dealing with debt problems in Western New York, including Rochester, New York, 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, NY, bankruptcy lawyer.