Frequently asked questions
Mississippi Requires Debtors to Use State Exemptions
Mississippi is what is called an “opt out” state, meaning Mississippi has opted out of the federal exemption scheme. Therefore, in Mississippi, you are not permitted to use the federal bankruptcy exemptions when you file bankruptcy in Mississippi; you may only exempt property using the Mississippi exemptions.
Although you can’t use the federal exemptions in Mississippi, you may use any of the applicable federal non-bankruptcy exemptions. The federal non-bankruptcy exemptions protect property such as federal retirement accounts and veterans’ benefits.
Married Couples May Double Mississippi Exemptions
Married couples filing a joint bankruptcy in Mississippi may double the exemption amount. This means that each spouse may claim the full exemption amount for any property in which the spouse has ownership interest. For example, if both spouses own a car and they file jointly, they can double the amount of their personal property exemptions to protect the car’s value. There's an exception for the homestead exemption (discussed below).
Common Mississippi Exemptions
Below are some of the most common exemptions available under Mississippi state law. Unless otherwise noted, all references are to the Missisippi Code Annotated.
Homestead or Residential Property
The homestead exemption protects equity in your home. In Mississippi, you can exempt up to $75,000 of equity in the real estate in which you live, as long as it's less than 160 acres. If you are over 60 years of age and married or widowed, you may claim the homestead exemption for a former residence. The Mississippi homestead exemption also protects proceeds from the sale of your home. You may also protect proceeds from insurance, condemnation, or the sale of the home in which you lived for 18 months. Married couples filing a joint bankruptcy can double the homestead exemption only if they live in separate residences. Miss. Code Ann. §85-3-21, 23
You may protect up to $30,000 of equity in a mobile or manufactured home in which you reside, but you cannot claim the homestead exemption to protect both real estate and your mobile home. Miss. Code Ann. §85-3-1
Life insurance proceeds if the contract language prohibits the proceeds from being used to pay creditors.
Miss. Code Ann. §83-7-5
Disability benefits. Miss. Code Ann. §85-3-1
Homeowners’ insurance proceeds up to $75,000. Miss. Code Ann. §85-3-23
Fraternal benefit society benefits. Miss. Code Ann. §83-29-39
Mississippi does not have a dedicated motor vehicle exemption, but you have up to $10,000 available to protect all of your personal or household property (see below), including your motor vehicles.
Up to $10,000 in total value of the following items: cash on hand, furniture, household goods, appliances, one lawnmower, clothing, wedding rings, motor vehicles, tools of the trade, books, health aids, crops, and pets. Miss. Code Ann. §85-3-1
Up to $10,000 in personal injury awards. Miss. Code Ann. §85-3-17
Sale or insurance proceeds for exempt property. Miss. Code Ann. §85-3-1
Income tax refunds up to $5,000. Miss. Code Ann. §85-3-1
Tax-exempt education savings plans. Miss. Code Ann. §85-3-1
Pension, Retirement, and Life Insurance Benefits
IRAs, Keoghs, and ERISA-qualified benefits deposited more than one year before filing. Miss. Code Ann. §85-3-1
Police officers and firefighters. Miss. Code Ann. §21-29-257
Teachers’ retirement benefits. Miss. Code Ann. §25-11-201
Public employees retirement and disability benefits. Miss. Code Ann. §25-11-129
Highway patrol officers’ retirement benefits. Miss. Code Ann. §25-13-31
State employees’ retirement benefits. Miss. Code Ann. §25-14-5
Volunteer firefighters’ and law enforcement officers’ death benefits. Miss. Code Ann. §45-2-1
Tax-deferred private retirement benefits. Miss. Code Ann. §71-1-43
Assistance to the aged. Miss. Code Ann. §43-9-19
Assistance to the disabled. Miss. Code Ann. §43-29-15
Assistance to the blind. Miss. Code Ann. §43-4-71
Workers’ compensation. Miss. Code Ann. §71-3-43
Unemployment compensation. Miss. Code Ann. §71-5-539
Earned income tax credit. Miss. Code Ann. §85-3-1
Crime victims’ compensation. Miss. Code Ann. §99-41-23
Social Security benefits. Miss. Code Ann. §25-11-129
Up to $50,000 of any property, if you are a Mississippi resident over 70 years of age. Miss. Code Ann. §85-3-1.
Confirming Mississippi’s Bankruptcy Exemptions
Mississippi’s exemption amounts are adjusted periodically. To ensure that you have the most recent figures, be sure to check for any updates at the website of the Mississippi Secretary of State.