Massachusetts Bankruptcy Exemptions

This list of exemptions updated August 2007.

All law references are to Annotated Laws of Massachusetts (also referred to as Massachusetts General Laws and General Laws of Massachusetts) unless otherwise noted. Federal Bankruptcy Exemptions are allowed in Massachusetts.

Homestead

  • 188-1 & 188-1A – $500,000 in property you occupy or intend to occupy; if over 65 or disabled, also applies to “manufactured home.” If title does not have a statement of homestead, a homestead declaration must be recorded before filing for bankruptcy.
  • 188-4 – The spouse or children of a deceased owner may claim the homestead exemption.
  • 209-1 – Tenancies by the entirety, regardless of value, are exempt as to the debts of one spouse, unless the debt was “incurred on account of necessaries” for either spouse or a family member.

Personal Property

  • 79-6A – Moving expenses for eminent domain (that is, if the government took your property).
  • 235-34 – Motor vehicle up to $700; furniture up to $3,000; clothing needed; beds and bedding; heating unit; books up to $200 total; cash up to $200 per month for rent, in lieu of homestead; cash for fuel, heat, water, or electricity up to $75 per month; bank deposits to $125; cash for food or food to $300; sewing machine to $200; burial plots and tombs; church pew; 2 cows, 2 swine, 12 sheep, and 4 tons of hay. Co-op shares up to $100.
  • 246-28A – Bank, credit union, or trust company deposits up to $500 total.

Wages

  • 246-28 – Earned but unpaid wages up to $125 per week.

Pensions

  • 11 U.S.C. § 522 – Tax exempt retirement accounts; Traditional and Roth IRAs up to $1,095,000 per person.
  • 32-19 – Public employees.
  • 32-41 – Private retirement benefits.
  • 168-41 & 168-44 – Savings bank employees.
  • 171-84 – Credit union employees.
  • 235-34A & 246-28 – ERISA-qualified benefits, IRAs and Keoghs to specific limits included.

Public Benefits

  • 115-5 – Veterans’ benefits.
  • 118-10 – AFDC
  • 151A-36 – Unemployment compensation.
  • 152-47 – Workers’ compensation.
  • 235-34 – Public assistance.

Tools of Trade

  • 235-34 – Tools, implements and fixtures up to $500 total; materials you designed and procured up to $500; boats, nets, and fishing tackle of fisherman up to $500; arms, uniforms, and accoutrements you are required to keep.

Insurance

  • 175-110A – Disability benefits up to $400 per week.
  • 175-119A – Life insurance proceeds if policy prohibits use to pay creditors.
  • 175-125 – Life or endowment policy, proceeds, dividends, interest, loan, cash, or surrender value.
  • 175-126 – Life insurance policy if beneficiary is a married woman.
  • 175-132C – Group annuity policy or proceeds.
  • 175-135 – Group life insurance policy.
  • 175F-15 – Medical malpractice self-insurance.
  • 176-22 – Fraternal benefit society benefits.

Miscellaneous

David S. Osterman 603-626-5452

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