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How 703 California Bankruptcy Exemptions

People filing for bankruptcy have one major concern that is whether they can keep their property if they file for bankruptcy. In the majority of circumstances all of the assets of the person can be protected in a bankruptcy through the use of bankruptcy exemptions. There are many types of protection available, viz. Wildcard protection. You also have the provision to protect your funds in checking and savings accounts if some portions of the wildcard is unused.

These are either California Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) 703 or 704. We cannot “mix and match” from the two. There are some similarities between these exemption lists, but also some major differences. Therefore, expert legal guidance is imperative for any person filing bankruptcy. The failure to correctly plan for the bankruptcy filing and use the correct exemptions can actually cause some people to lose property that they could have been protected. When filing for bankruptcy in California you may only use one of the two bankruptcy exemptions. If you do not own a home or have very little equity in your home, then generally you will select the protections of 703.


If you are considering filing for bankruptcy and are concerned that you may be unable to keep your property, understanding 703 protections may resolve your concerns. 703 Bankruptcy protection exemptions protect the following property:-

If the home you live in contains equity then the homestead protection can be used up to $20,725 to protect the equity in your home, plus $1,100.00 (Wildcard protection) can be used toward the equity in your home if it is not used to protect any other property.

Wildcard protection: can be used to protect any property you own up to the value of $1,100. If you do not have equity in your home or the equity in your home is less than $20,725 then you can use the unused portion of the homestead protection as a wildcard. Your total wildcard protection can total $21, 825 if the homestead protection is not used at all. You can protect the value of your automobile up to $3,300. If your automobile is worth more than $3,300 after subtracting for any loans payable on the automobile, then you can use any amount remaining in the wildcard to shield the remaining equity in your automobile. The automobile protection amount can only be used on one automobile. If you have a second automobile that needs protection because there is equity then you can use the unused wildcard. Furnishings, appliances, household goods ECT – Up to $525 per item. You can keep all household furniture, home appliances and clothing items that do not total over $525 in value. The $525 in value would relate to each item and it refers to liquidation/pawn shop value, not the replacement value of the items. Rarely one household item is worth more than $525 in value. If there were an item above the $525 value then you could use your unused wildcard to shield it. You can protect any jewelry you own up to $1,350. If your jewelry is worth more than $1,350 in liquidation value then you can utilize any unused portion of the wildcard to protect the remaining value. If you have tools, equipment, machinery that it is used as part of your profession or business then you can utilize this exemption to protect up to $2,075 in the value of your tools, equipment, office equipment. If your tools or equipment are worth more than $2,075 then you can use any unused portion of the wildcard to protect the remaining sum.

Mass retirement and pensions qualify for protection under this exemption including IRA’s, 401K’s and profit sharing plans for retirement. You should have your type of retirement account evaluated to ensure that there are no problems with its protection. There are several other protections listed under 703 bankruptcy exemptions. The above reflects the majority of items that clients have questions about protecting.

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