Can you exempt my motorcycle in bankruptcy, or what happens to it when I file?


First, here’s what happens if you own it free and clear:  $3,000 of equity in one vehicle is protected for husband, and another $3,000 for wife (either in that same vehicle or in her separate one. So long as both are on title).

But there are limits:

78B-5-506. Value of exempt property — Exemption of implements, professional books, tools, and motor vehicles

“motor vehicle” does not include any motor vehicle designed for or used primarily for recreational purposes, such as:
(i) an off-highway vehicle as defined in Section 41-22-2, except a motorcycle the individual regularly uses for daily transportation; or
(ii) a recreational vehicle as defined in Section 13-14-102, except a van the individual regularly uses for daily transportation.
(b) An individual is entitled to an exemption, not exceeding $3,000 in value, of one motor vehicle.

In other words, $3,000 of your commuter is protected.  However, if you have a dirt bike which is not street legal, then I cannot protect it.  OHV’s are very, very hard to protect unless you have done the upgrades to make them street legal.

Now what happens if I cannot protect it and/or you have too much equity?  Well, the trustee will either demand the title and sell it to pay off your creditors, or he will ask you to buy it back from him.

Second, what happens if you have a loan against it?

In a chapter 7, so long as there is no equity above and beyond the loan that I cannot protect, all you have to do in a chapter 7 case is keep making payments on it and reaffirm the debt.  This allows you to keep the bike and the loan associated with it.

In a chapter 13, if you try to keep the secured debt, the trustee will object if it is anything but a commuter.  If you try to keep a toy in a chapter 13, you’ll end up paying double for it.  See

Leave a Reply