Two Systems of California Exemptions

California has two statutory systems governing bankruptcy exemptions.  These systems are codified in California Code of Civil Procedure sections 703 and 704.  You will often hear them referenced as "703" exemptions or "704" exemptions.  The California homestead exemption increased on January 1, 2010.  This effected the 704 exemptions.  Those changes are reflected in the table below.

As you can see, it takes great planning to decide which set of exemptions will most protect and preserve your property.  

Type of Exemption
703 Exemptions
704 Exemptions

Homestead
$20,725.00
$75,000 if single and not disabled; $100,00 if family and no other member has homestead; $175,000 if 65 or older or if physically or mentally disabled; $175,000 if creditors are seeking to force sale of your home and you are either (a) 55 or older, single and earn under $15,000 per year, or (b) 55 or older, married and earn under $20,000 per year. Sale proceeds are exempt for up to 6 months after sale.

Motor Vehicle
$3,300.00
$2,550.00

Food, clothing, appliances and furnishings
$525 per item. Actually includes clothing, household goods, appliances, furnishings, animals, books, musical instruments and crops.
Reasonable amount.

Building materials to repair or improve home


$2,700.00

Jewelry, heirlooms, and art
$1,350 (jewelry)
$6,750.00

Health aids
Reasonable amount.
Reasonable amount.

Bank deposits form Social Security or Public Benefits
Fully exempt (Social Security and Public Benefits).
Bank deposits from Social Security Administration up to $2,700 for single payee ($4,050 for husband and wife payees); Bank deposits from other public benefits up to $1,350 ($2,025 for husband and wife).

Personal injury causes of action and wrongful death causes of action
As needed for support (wrongful death only). Personal injury recoveries up to $20,725, not to include pain, suffering or pecuniary loss.
As needed for support.

Burial plot
Up to $20,725, instead of homestead.
Reasonable amount.

Wages


75% of wages paid within 30 days prior to filing bankruptcy.

Public employee vacation credits


Reasonable amount but 75% minimum if receiving installment payments.

Tax exempt retirement accounts
Traditional and Roth IRAs up to $1,095,000 per person.
Traditional and Roth IRAs up to $1,095,000 per person.

Public retirement benefits


Fully allowed.

Private retirements benefits, including IRA and Keogh


Fully allowed.

Unemployment benefits and union benefits due to labor dispute.
Fully allowed (unemployment).
Fully allowed.

Workers' compensation.


Fully allowed.

Aid to blind, aged and disabled or other public assistance.


Fully exempt.

Relocation benefits.


Fully exempt.

Financial aid to students.


Fully exempt.

Tools of trade (tools for work)
$2,075.00
Tools, implements, materials, books, uniforms, instruments, one commercial vehicle, equipment, and furnishings up to $6,750, or up to $13,475 if used by both spouses in the same occupation. Commercial vehicle up to $4,850, or $9,700 if used by both spouses in the same occupation.

Matured life insurance benefits needed for support of unlimited value, or unmatured life insurance policy
Unmatured life insurance policy accrued interest, dividends, loan, cash or surrender value $11,075. Other unmatured life insurnace policy fully exempt.
$10,775.00

Disability or health benefits
Fully exempt.
Fully exempt.

Life insurance
As needed for support.
Life insurance proceeds if policy prohibits use to pay creditors.

Business or professional licenses


Fully exempt.

Trust funds of inmates


$1,350.00

Business partnership property


Fully exempt.

WILDCARD
$16,100 less any claim for homestead or burial plot.
NONE.

ERISA Qualified Benefits
As needed for support.

 

Crime Victim Compensation
Fully exempt.

 

Alimony and Child Support
Fully exempt.