Many tragedies can lead a person to declare bankruptcy, from a serious illness or injury to the death of a wage-earner who didn’t have life insurance to legal bills for serious criminal defense charges. If you find yourself unable to pay your bills or saddled with significant credit card debt, home equity line of credit, or other debt, it’s time to seek professional consumer financial help.
The good news is that even if you do end up having to declare bankruptcy, you can most likely protect your home under the homestead exemption. There are some things to note, including that the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA) of 2005 changed the time a bankruptcy filer must have lived in a state in order to claim the state exemption. If you’ve lived in your home in South Carolina for at least 40 months (over 3 years) than you qualify for the South Carolina homestead exemption. Otherwise, you would normally have to use the federal exemption, which is set at $155,675 for 2013-2016. However, as you can see below the South Carolina exemption amount is lower than the federal homestead exemption.
The following table outlines the homestead protection law for South Carolina.
|Code Section||South Carolina Code Section 15-41-30: Property Exempt from Attachment, Levy, and Sale|
|Maximum Property Value That May Be Designated 'Homestead'||Typically, the debtor can’t exempt more than $58,225 in real property (land, home, farm) or personal property (clothes, furniture, a car – up to $5,825 value, etc. that can be moved).
If there are multiple exemptions on same living unit then the maximum exemption is $116,450. For example, if a husband and wife own a home together as joint tenants, 50% owned by each, and they declare bankruptcy together, their exemption is $116,450.
However, let’s say instead three brothers own a home together (33% each) and all declare bankruptcy. They can’t all get $58,225 value on the home therefore exempting $174,675 for the homestead. This also doesn’t work because the doubling of the exemption is for married couples.
|Maximum Acreage||Some state statutes provide a maximum acreage that may or may not vary by the urban or rural setting of the homestead. South Carolina has no maximum acreage only maximum property value, which is affected by acreage.|
The best way to avoid a bankruptcy or judgment where you have to be concerned about losing your home is to work with an experienced South Carolina debtor attorney to get your debts taken care of and to protect the assets you can save.
Note: State laws change all the time. You should confirm the accuracy of these laws before relying on them by doing your own legal research or working with a South Carolina debtor-creditor attorney.
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