Wisconsin Bankruptcy Exemptions

The Wisconsin bankruptcy exemptions chart, see below, details the property you can exempt or protect from creditors when you file bankruptcy in Wisconsin. You may exempt any property that falls into one of the exemptions categories below, up to the dollar amount listed. You will be able to kept this exempted property after you file bankruptcy. Please note that there are certain debts which you will not be able to erase in bankruptcy. (see Non-dischargeable Debts)

In Wisconsin, you also have the choice of using the federal exemption statutes instead of your Wisconsin exemptions.

An exemption limit applies to any equity you have in the property. Equity is the difference between the value of the property and what is owed on the property. For example, a car valued at $5000 with a loan of $4500 has an equity value of only $500.

If the property is secured by a loan, such as a car or home, and you are current on the payments and the equity is covered by your exemptions, you may elect to keep making payments on the loan and keep this property through the bankruptcy. If all the equity is not covered by your exemptions the trustee may elect to liquidate this asset and distribute the proceeds. Generally, in this case, you would be entitled to the value of your exemption in the asset as a cash payment.

Bankruptcy law allows married couples filing jointly to each claim a full set of exemptions, unless otherwise noted.

To keep non-exempt property, a debtor must generally pay the trustee the value of the non-exempt property.

When you file bankruptcy in Wisconsin you may also use certain federal exemptions in addition to your Wisconsin exemptions.





Property you occupy or intend to occupy to $40,000; sale proceeds exempt for 2 years from sale if you plan to obtain another home ( husband and wife may not double)





Federal disability insurance

Fire proceeds for destroyed exempt property for 2 years from receiving

Fraternal benefit society benefits

Life insurance policy or proceeds to $5000, if beneficiary is a married woman

Life insurance proceeds held in trust by insurer, if clause prohibits proceeds from being used to pay beneficiary’s creditors

Life insurance proceeds if beneficiary was dependent of insured, needed for support

Unmatured life insurance contract, except credit insurance contract, owned by debtor & insuring debtor, dependent of debtor or someone debtor is dependent on

Unmatured life insurance contract’s accrued dividends, interest or loan value (to $4000 total in all contracts), if debtor owns contract & insured is debtor, dependent of debtor or someone debtor is dependent on

815.18(3) (ds)

815.18(3) (e)




815.18(3) (I) (a)


815.18(3) (f)



815.18(3) (f)


Alimony, child support needed for support

Property of business partnership

815.18(3) ( c)



Certain municipal employees

Firefighters, police officers who worked in city with population over 100,000

Military pensions

Private or public retirement benefits

Public employees


815.18(3) (ef)

815.18(3) (n)

815.18(3) (j)


Personal Property

Burial provisions

Deposit accounts to $1000

Household goods and furnishings, clothing, keepsakes, jewelry, appliances, books, musical instruments, firearms, sporting goods, animals and other tangible property held for personal, family or household use to $5000 total

Lost future earnings recoveries, needed for support

Motor vehicles to $1200

Personal injury recoveries to $25,000

Tenant’s lease or stock interest in housing co-op, to homestead amount

Wages used to purchase savings bonds

Wrongful death recoveries, needed for support

815.18(3) (a)

815.18(3) (k)



815.18(3) (d)

815.18(3) (I) (d)

815.18(3) (g)

815.18(3) (I) (c)


20.921(1) (e)

815.18(3) (I) (b)

Public Benefits

Crime victims’ compensation

Social Service payments

Unemployment compensation

Veterans benefits

Workers’ compensation




45.35(8) (b)


Tools of Trade

Equipment, inventory, farm products, books and tools of trade to $7500 total

815.18(3) (b)


75% of earned but unpaid wages; bankruptcy judge may authorize more for low-income debtors

815.18(3) (h)

Wild Card



For more information on filing bankruptcy in Wisconsin explore Wisconsin Bankruptcy Law.