California Bankruptcy Exemption Statutes

NOTE: California has two systems of bankruptcy exemptions to choose from, but federal exemptions are not available to CA filers. There is no mixing and matching exemptions between the two systems, so once you choose a system, you are limited to that system's exemptions. Except where listed, a husband and wife jointly filing cannot double the exemption.


System 1 System 2

Homestead Exemption

Real or personal property (think trailer, mobile home, boat, condo, etc.) you live in:

$50,000 for single filers not disabled

$75,000 for families with one homestead for all

$150,000 for those 65 years or older, or disabled either physically or mentally

$150,000 for those 55 years or older, single, earn less than $15,000 a year and creditors are trying to force a sale of the home

$150,000 for those 55 years or older, married and earn less than $20,000 jointly and creditors are trying to force a sale of the home 

Real or personal property (think trailer, mobile home, boat, condo, etc.) used as residence, including co-ops: $20,725 

Personal Property

Items of daily living such as appliances, furniture, clothing and food are entirely exempt

Up to $525 per item for the following: Household goods, items of daily living (appliances, furnishings, clothing), books, musical instruments, crops and animals

Burial plot, escrow funds, health aids, jury awards from personal injury or wrongful death suits (for installments, minimum of 75% exempt) 

Health aids, jury awards from wrongful death suits 

$2700 of bank deposits from Social Security (married couple: $4,050)

$2700 for materials to build or repair home (i.e. does not include labor costs)

$6,750 in art, jewelry and other heirlooms

$2,550 for vehicles 

$1,350 of jewelry (no mention of art)

$20,725 of burial plot (if no homestead exemption is claimed)

$3,300 for vehicles

$20,725 of personal injury awards (not including pain & suffering or financial loss)



Disability and health benefits; fraternal society benefits, matured life insurance proceeds if needed for financial support


Disability benefits; life insurance proceeds if needed for financial support of family; unmatured life insurance policy other than credit

$10,775 of loan value of unmatured life insurance cash surrender value   

$11,075 accrued in unmatured life insurance

Pensions (note tax-exempt retirement accounts such as 401(k)s, 403(b)s, defined benefit plans, and traditional and Roth IRAs up to $1,095,000 are not covered by state law but ARE exempt under federal law)

Public retirement benefits are exempt.  Likewise, pensions earned by county employees, county firefighters and peace officers, and other public employees are exempt.


Private retirement benefits, such as IRAs and Keoghs

ERISA-qualified benefits that is required for support are exempt

Public benefits

Public assistance, including aid to the blind, elderly and disabled, are exempt. Also exempt are student financial aid, relocation benefits, unemployment compensation, union benefits during labor disputes and workers’ comp.

Public assistance, Social Security, veterans’ benefits, unemployment compensation and crime victims’ compensation are all exempt


Business or professional licenses and property of a business partnership are exempt

Alimony & child support necessary for support is exempt.

$1,350 of inmates’ trust funds

At least 75% of wages paid within 30 days before filing bankruptcy

$2,075 for instruments, books and other “tools of the trade”

$1,100 for any property

Vacation credits for public employees (if via installments, minimum 75%)

No state exemption for wages, but filers may use federal non-bankruptcy wage exemption


Unused portion of homestead or burial exemption (see above) of any property

The California Code is available here.  Links to specific sections regarding state exemptions follow below.

Please note: Laws may have changed since our last update. For the latest publication, please visit the state legislature sites directly, or speak with a bankruptcy attorney near you.

California Code of Civil Procedure 695.010-695.070

California Code of Civil Procedure 703.010-703.150

California Code of Civil Procedure 704.010-704.210

California Code of Civil Procedure 704.710-704.850

California Code of Civil Procedure 704.910-704.995

California Insurance Code 10129-10133.9

California Insurance Code 10770-10180

California Government Code 21250-21269

California Government Code 31450-31485

California Government Code 31900-31919

California Government Code 32200-32211

California Finance Code 17400-17424

California Labor Code 400-410

California Corporations Code 16501-16504