Filing for bankruptcy does not mean you must forfeit your property to your creditors! Thanks to bankruptcy exemptions, a bankruptcy filer may protect their personal property up to a certain limit.

Bankruptcy exemptions do not automatically go into effect. If you are filing for bankruptcy, you must claim any property you wish to remain exempt.


Which Property Can You Claim as Exempt in Bankruptcy?

State and federal laws permit individuals and married couples to claim bankruptcy exemptions on their personal property up to their allowed exemption limit. These include but are not limited to:

  • The filer’s primary place of residence
  • Motor vehicles, including trucks, cars and motorcycles
  • Medical devices, such as CPAP machines and mobility aids
  • Professional equipment, such as the tools used by a mechanic or contractor
  • Personal property, such as furniture, television sets and personal computers

In addition to real estate and chattels, several types of intangible personal property may be filed as exempt from bankruptcy, including but not limited to:

  • Child Support
  • Life insurance
  • Retirement accounts
  • Workers’ compensation
  • Veterans, unemployment, Social Security and other public benefits

Note that the federal government and some state governments also allow wildcard bankruptcy exemptions. Such exemptions may be applied to virtually any other type of personal property, such as family heirlooms. We will touch on what this means to South Dakotans momentarily.


Which Property Can You Claim as Exempt in Bankruptcy in South Dakota?

Most states prohibit their residents from claiming federal bankruptcy exemptions. South Dakota is one of them. In effect, this means residents of South Dakota have only one set of rules to follow while claiming bankruptcy exemptions unless you have recently moved into the state.

Individuals and married couples filing for bankruptcy in South Dakota may exempt the full value of the following types of property:

  • Books
  • Pictures
  • Clothing
  • Church pew
  • Business partnership property
  • Up to one year’s worth of food and fuel
  • Burial plots and cemetery association property
  • Prescribed medical devices and other health aids

South Dakota bankruptcy code further permits those filing for bankruptcy to claim several types of monetary assets, including but not limited to:

  • Public assistance
  • Government employee pensions
  • Health benefits (within a $20,000 limit)
  • Child support
  • Proceeds from life insurance (with certain exceptions)
  • Proceeds from annuity contracts (up to $250 per month)
  • Workers’, crime victims’ and unemployment compensation

What Are the Bankruptcy Exemption Limits in South Dakota?

If you are filing for bankruptcy in South Dakota, the types of personal property you may exempt permits a single filer to claim $5,000 in personal property – or $7,000, if they are the head of a household. A married couple which jointly files for bankruptcy may claim up to $12,000 in value. Furthermore, South Dakota code’s homestead exemption permits the filing party to protect equity in real property up to $60,000 in value.

The information provided in this article is not intended to constitute legal advice. Navigating a bankruptcy demands careful attention to detail, as a single misstep may expose the filer to severe legal and financial penalties.

The Thomas A Blake Law Office provides full-service law professional representation on a broad range of legal matters pertaining to bankruptcy, personal injury, and family law throughout the state of South Dakota. If you seek sound and affordable legal representation, then we welcome you to contact our office today.