Schedule C: The Property You Claim as Exempt

Produced by Attorney Mariah Jennings-Rampsi for MassLegalHelp
Created October 2016

What Property Can You Keep? Schedule C

On Schedule C – Property You Claim as Exempt tells the court about the property you are keeping. You use “exemptions” to keep property.


If you own your home, Record a Declaration of Homestead with your county Registry of Deeds. If you have not recorded a Homestead Exemption, see homestead protection.

What is an “exemption”?

box of exemptions

Exemptions are legal tools to protect your property from creditors. You use “exemptions” to keep property out of your “bankruptcy estate.” You can keep the property. The Trustee cannot sell property that is exempt to pay your creditors.


If your property is not exempt, the trustee can sell it to pay back your creditors.  If you do not know if something is exempt, talk to a lawyer.

Anything that is not exempt must go into your bankruptcy estate to pay off your debts.

You can only claim exemptions from the Massachusetts list of exemptions or the federal government’s list.  You cannot use both lists. They are different. And you have to pick one list to use.

Massachusetts or Federal Exemptions?

You can only use 1 list of exemptions. 

Fill out Schedule C Worksheet to help you decide which list to use.

Image that shows the top of Schedule C Worksheet.

Schedule C Worksheet lists the Federal exemptions in one column and the Massachusetts exemptions in another column. 

After you fill out Schedule C Worksheet  you may be clear which list to use. If it is not clear, if may help to think about your exemptions in these categories.

  • Real PropertyIf you own your home.
  • Money on Hand
  • Vehicle Exemptions

Money on Hand

Massachusetts exemptions give you 2 ways to protect your cash.

  • Exempt source. If the money is from an exempt source like Social Security, disability, unemployment, worker’s compensation, child support, and any other forms of public assistance you can exempt it.
  • Massachusetts also allows you to exempt some cash for specific purposes.

Federal exemptions only let you protect cash from exempt sources.

Vehicle Exemptions

What if my vehicle is over the exemption limit?

  • Double check how much your vehicle is worth.  Ask a mechanic for a written estimate. Your vehicle may not be worth as much as you thought. It may be less than the value listed in the Blue Book.
  • You can “buy” the extra equity. You may be able to pay the trustee to keep your car. If your car is worth $8000 but your exemption is only $7500, you are $500 over the exemption.  You have six months to pay the difference.  See the section Retain in our instructions for Statement of Intention for Individuals Filing Under Chapter 7 page 1.
  • You can sell the vehicle and buy a cheaper one.  If your vehicle is worth a lot more than the amount of your exemption, you may not be able to pay the extra amount in six months.  The Trustee will probably sell it to pay off your creditors.  You can sell the vehicle and buy a less expensive one, but you need to do this before you file bankruptcy.

Can I keep more than 1 vehicle?

  • You can only claim 1 vehicle for personal use.  If you have more than one vehicle per person, the trustee will probably sell it.
  • But if you really want, you may be able to keep the extra car if:
  • you can use another exemption like the federal wildcard money – see wildcard money,
  • the car has no value, or
  • you can pay the trustee the value of the car over six months.

Filling out Schedule C

Get Schedule C: The Property You Claim as Exempt from the US Bankruptcy Court website.

Save the form on your computer.

In the top box put your name and your spouse’s if you are both filing.

Skip the box that asks for the District

Put “Mass.” in the box that asks for your state.

The clerk will give you the Case No. when you file your Bankruptcy Petition.

The top box of most Bankruptcy forms.

Most of Schedule C is easy to fill out. Some parts of the form are not so easy to understand. It’s important to understand the question before you answer it. Some of the complicated parts are:

Part 1

Line 1

Check the box at the top of Schedule C for the exemptions you are using:

  • 11 U.S.C. 522 (b)(3) for State Law or
  • 11 U.S.C. 522 (b)(2) for Federal Law

Line 2

Use Both Schedule A/B and Schedule C Worksheet  to fill out Schedule C. Copy the information from Schedule C Worksheet into schedule C.

  • In the first column, put a description of all your real and personal property that you can use an exemption for.   Put the line from Schedule A/B where the item is listed. Only list items if they are exempt on the list you chose.
  • In the second column write the total resale value of the property you listed on Schedule A/ B.
  • In the third column, put the “amount of the exemption” you listed on Schedule C Worksheet. You can usually check “100% of the fair market value…” You can protect just part of the property instead. The value of the exemption is the value of the property up to the amount of the exemption, minus any loans you owe on it.
  • In the last column, put the law that gives you the exemption. You can find the law for each exemption at the end of Schedule C Worksheet in the footnotes.
  • If you have exempt Income on Schedule C Worksheet - like child support, alimony, social security, disability, TAFDC or other benefits, list each type separately on schedule C. You do not need to list the amount you get because it is all exempt. Just check the box that says “100% of fair market value…..”
  • If you need more space, use Part 2.

Line 3

If you are claiming more than $160,375 in exempt home equity, check Yes in Question 3.

image of homestead section of Schedule C

Answer Yes or No to the question the number of days you have owned the property.


To figure out how many days you have owned the property, use

  • Put the day you got the property in as the start date,
  • the date you file for bankruptcy as the end date.
  • Check the box that says include end date in calculation.
    • If the number you get is less than 1,215 answer Yes,
    • If the number is more than 1,214, answer No.

Filing without a lawyer

  • Bankruptcy is complicated. Filing without a lawyer is risky.
  • You can lose property and money. You can go to jail if you do not tell the truth.

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