Sunday, July 29, 2012

Oklahoma Bankruptcy Law - A General Overview of Oklahoma Bankruptcy Exemptions

This article applies to Oklahoma bankruptcy in a very general sense. This article is no substitute for discussing your situation with an Oklahoma bankruptcy attorney. Every situation is unique and many of the general rules have exceptions.

Individual Debtors Filing for Oklahoma Bankruptcy May Only Use Exemptions Provided by Oklahoma State Law

Individual debtors filing for bankruptcy can generally use the bankruptcy exemptions they may be entitled to under the laws of the state of their domicile, and under federal laws other than bankruptcy. 11 U.S.C. 522(b)(2). In a few states, individual debtors can also use exemptions set out in 522(d), but this is only allowed in states that have not enacted opt out legislation under 522(b)(1). Section 522(b)(1) allows states to preclude an individual debtor in that state from using 522(d). The majority of states have done this.

Oklahoma is one of the majority of states having enacted opt out legislation. Because of this, individual debtors filing for bankruptcy in Oklahoma are only allowed to use the exemptions found in Oklahoma state law and federal laws other than the Bankruptcy Code. Okla. Stat. tit. 31, 1(B).

Oklahoma Bankruptcy Exemptions

The following list is a very general overview of the Oklahoma bankruptcy exemptions which most often affect individual debtors. This list is not meant to be exhaustive and is no substitute for a consultation with an Oklahoma bankruptcy attorney. Citations are to the Oklahoma Statutes.

Homestead Exemption



* An individual may exempt a home, but only if the home is his or her personal residence. Title 31, 1(A)(1). This includes manufactured homes. Title 31, (1)(A)(2).


* When the homestead is located outside of any city or town, it is limited to a size of 160 acres. Title 31, 2(A). When the homestead is located within a city or town, the homestead may not exceed one (1) acre of land. Title 31, 2(C). If more than twenty-five percent (25%) of the total square foot area of the home and improvements is used for a business, the homestead exemption amount is capped at five thousand dollars (,000). Id.


* However, the homestead exemption will not apply when the debt is due for the purchase money of the homestead, or a portion of the purchase money; for taxes or a tax lien on the homestead; and for debts on work and material used in improvements to the property. Title 31, 5(1), (2), and (3).

Furniture



* An individual may exempt all household and kitchen furniture provided it is held primarily for personal, family, educational, or household use by the individual or his or her dependents. Okla. Stat. tit. 31, 1(A)(3). This includes a personal computer and related equipment. Id.

Tools of the Trade and Professional Equipment



* An individual may exempt any tools, apparatus, or books used to conduct a trade or profession by either the individual or the debtor's dependent, but only up to an aggregate value of ,000. Title 31, (1)(A)(5).

Pictures and Books



* An individual may exempt all books, portraits, and pictures which the individual holds primarily for his or her personal use, for use by the individual's family, or use by the individual's dependent. Title 31, (1)(A)(6).

Clothing



* An individual may exempt clothing for either the debtor's personal use, family use, or use by the debtor's dependent; but only up to an aggregate value of ,000. Title 31, 1(A)(7).

Wedding and Anniversary Rings



* An individual may exempt wedding and anniversary rings, but only up to ,000 in value total. Title 31, 1(A)(8).

Professionally Prescribed Health Aids



* An individual may exempt all professionally prescribed health aids, whether for the debtor or the debtor's dependent. Title 31, 1(A)(9). There is no value cap on this exemption, but the health aid must be proscribed by a health professional to qualify.

Motor Vehicle



* An individual may exempt his or her interest in one motor vehicle, up to ,500 in value. Title 31, 1(A)(13).

Firearms



* An individual may exempt up to ,000 worth of firearms, provided the firearms are held primarily for personal, family or household use. Title 31, 1(A)(14). This means firearms held as collectibles, or for trade or sale, are not eligible for exemption.

Wages and Income



* An individual may exempt seventy-five percent (75%) of all current wages or earnings he or she receives for personal or professional services which have been earned for the ninety (90) day period preceding the bankruptcy filing (but not in garnishment proceedings for back child support). Title 31, 1(A)(18); and Title 12, 1171.1(B).

Alimony, Support, Maintenance, and Child Support



* An individual may exempt his or her right to receive alimony, spousal support, separate maintenance, or child support payments, but only to the extent reasonably necessary to support the individual or the debtor's dependent. Title 31, 1(A)(19).

ERISA Qualified Benefits



* An individual may exempt any interest in a retirement plan or arrangement which is deemed an ERISA (Employment Retirement Income Security Act) qualified plan by federal law. Title 31, 1(A)(20).

VA Disability Benefits



* An individual may exempt his or her Veteran's Affairs disability benefits. Title 31, 7. There is no value cap.

Assessment or Mutual Benefits



* An individual may exempt all monies or benefits received by Mutual Benefit Associations operating under Article 24 of Title 36 of the Oklahoma Statutes. Title 36, 2410.

Fraternal Benefit Society Benefits



* An individual may exempt all monies, benefits, charities, and relief or aid to be paid or rendered by a fraternal benefit society. Title 36, 2718.1.

Prepaid Funeral Benefits Placed in Trust



* An individual may exempt funeral benefits which were prepaid and placed in trust. Title 36, 6125.

Group Life Insurance Policy and Proceeds



* An individual may exempt a group life insurance policy, or the proceeds from a group life insurance policy. Title 36, 3632(A).

County Employee's Retirement Benefits



* An individual may exempt money due or to become due under a pension plan for county employees. Title 19, 959.

Firefighter, Police, and Law Enforcement Pension and Retirement Benefits



* An individual may exempt money due or to be paid under a firefighter pension plan. Title 11, 49-126(A). An individual may also exempt money due or to be paid under a police pension plan. Title 11, 50-124(A). This also applies to law enforcement pension plans in Oklahoma. Title 47, 2-303.3(A).

Teachers' Retirement Benefits



* An individual may exempt money due or to be paid under the teachers' retirement system. Title 70, 17-109(A).

Oklahoma Public Employees Retirement Benefits



* An individual may exempt money due or to be paid under the Oklahoma Public Employees Retirement System. Title 74, 923(A).

Social Security Benefits



* An individual may exempt social security benefits. Title 56, 173.

Oklahoma Unemployment Benefits



* An individual may exempt money due or to be paid as unemployment benefits under the Oklahoma Employment Security Act of 1980. Title 40, 2-303.

This is a partial list of the bankruptcy exemptions provided by Oklahoma. While this article attempts to provide a general overview of Oklahoma bankruptcy exemptions, this article is not intended to substitute for legal advice from a competent Oklahoma bankruptcy attorney. There are often exceptions to these general rules. Before making the final decision whether bankruptcy is the right choice, an individual debtor should consult with an

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