California State Economy: 

With millions of acres of farmland, California leads the U.S. in agricultural production. The state is also home to famous cultural institutions and national parks including: Hollywood, Disneyland, Yosemite National Park, Alcatraz, Angel Island and the Golden Gate Bridge

Bankruptcy Court Locations:

Southern District of California

Jacob Weinberger United States Courthouse
325 West F Street
San Diego, California 92101
(619) 557-5620

Northern District of California:

United States Bankruptcy Court
3140 Boeing Ave
McKinleyville, CA 95519
(707) 443-9081

United States Bankruptcy Court
450 Golden Gate Ave
Mail Box 36099
San Francisco, CA 94102

Central District of California

United States Bankruptcy Court
Central District of California
Edward R. Roybal Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse
255 East Temple Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012

United States Bankruptcy Court
Central District of California
3420 Twelfth Street
Riverside, CA 92501

United States Bankruptcy Court
Central District of California
Ronald Reagan Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse
411 West Fourth Street
Santa Ana, CA 92701

United States Bankruptcy Court
Central District of California
21041 Burbank Boulevard
Woodland Hills, CA 91367 

United States Bankruptcy Court
Central District of California
1415 State Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93101

California State Exemptions:

California Bankruptcy Exemption System 1 (704 Exemptions)

Below you’ll find exemptions commonly used by California bankruptcy filers.

New 704 Exemptions (2020): Deposit Accounts and FEMA Benefits

Filers using the 704 exemption series are now able to protect bank account balances and benefits received from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Exemptions are phased in–check the effective dates carefully.

  • Deposit accounts (effective January 1, 2020)—to the extent necessary for the support of the judgment debtor, as well as the judgment debtor’s spouse and dependents. (CCP 704.225.) Using this exemption, a family living paycheck to paycheck could likely exempt an entire account balance; however, courts have yet to weigh in on the new law. A debtor must assert this exemption for it to apply.
  • Deposit accounts (effective September 1, 2020)—minimum exemption of $1,724. (CCP 704.220.) A debtor can protect “…an amount equal to or less than the minimum basic standard of adequate care for a family of four…,” or $1,724 under current standards. An automatic exemption—a debtor does not need to assert it for it to apply. A minimum balance of $1,724 must remain in an account when a judgment creditor seizes funds using a bank levy. The exemption covers one account.
  • FEMA benefits (effective January 1, 2020)—all funds received from FEMA. (CCP 704.230.) An automatic exemption—a debtor does not need to assert it for it to apply.

For more information, read 2020 California Adopts New Bankruptcy Exemptions.

California 704 Homestead Exemption

The homestead exemption protects a certain amount of equity in your principal residence. In System 1 (also known as § 704 exemptions), you can exempt real or personal property you reside in at the time of filing for bankruptcy, including a mobile home, boat, stock cooperative, community apartment, planned development or condominium, up to: $75,000 if single and not disabled; $100,000 if the filer and at least one family member have an interest in the homestead; $175,000 if 65 or older or if physically or mentally disabled; $175,000 if creditors are seeking to force the sale of your home and you are either (a) 55 or older, single and earn under $25,000 per year, or (b) 55 or older, married and make under $35,000 per year – 704.730.

California 704 Motor Vehicle Exemption

The motor vehicle exemption protects equity in your car, truck, motorcycle, or another vehicle. The System 1 vehicle exemption is $3,325 – 704.010.

Personal Property

  • Household items and personal effects – 704.020.
  • Residential building materials to repair or improve home up to $3,500 – 704.030.
  • Jewelry, heirlooms, and works of art up to $8,725 – 704.040.
  • Health aids – 704.050.
  • Bank deposits arising out of Social Security payments up to $3,500 for a single payee ($5,250 for husband and wife payees) and unlimited if funds are not commingled; bank deposits from other public benefit payments up to $1,750 ($2,600 for husband and wife as joint payees) – 704.080.
  • Personal injury and wrongful death causes of action and recoveries necessary for support – 704.140 & 704.150.
  • Cemetery and burial plot – 704.200.


  • 75% of wages paid within 30 days before filing bankruptcy – 704.070.
  • Public employee vacation credits (at least 75% if receiving installment payments) – 704.113.

Retirement & Pensions

  • Tax-exempt retirement accounts (including 401(k)s, 403(b)s, profit-sharing, and money purchase plans, SEP and SIMPLE IRAs, and defined benefit plans) – 11 U.S.C. § 522.
  • IRAS and Roth IRAs (limits apply) – 11 U.S.C. § 522(b)(3)(C)(n). (This amount is set by federal law. See The Federal Bankruptcy Exemptions for amount updates.)
  • Public retirement benefits – 704.110.
  • Private retirement plans and benefits, including IRA and Keogh – 704.115.
  • Public employees – Cal. Gov’t Code § 21255.
  • County employees – Cal. Gov’t Code § 31452.
  • County peace officers – Cal. Gov’t Code § 31913.
  • County firefighters – Cal. Gov’t Code § 32210.

Public Benefits

  • Unemployment and disability benefits, and union benefits due to labor disputes – 704.120.
  • Workers’ compensation benefits – 704.160.
  • Public assistance benefits – 704.170.
  • Relocation benefits – 704.180.
  • Student financial aid – 704.190.

Tools of Trade

  • Tools, implements, materials, books, uniforms, instruments, one commercial vehicle, equipment, and furnishings up to $8,725 total, or up to $17,450 if used by both spouses in the same occupation – 704.060.


  • Matured life insurance benefits needed for support of unlimited value, or unmatured life insurance policy up to $13,975 – 704.100.
  • Disability or health insurance benefits – 704.130.
  • Homeowners’ insurance proceeds for six months after received, up the to amount of homestead exemption -704.720.
  • Fidelity bonds – Cal. Labor Code § 404.
  • Life insurance proceeds if policy prohibits use to pay creditors – Cal. Insurance Code § 10132, 10170, 10171.


  • Business or professional licenses – 695.060.
  • Trust funds of inmates up to $1,600 – 704.090.
  • Property of business partnership – Cal. Corporations Code § 16501.

California Bankruptcy Exemption System 2 (703 Exemptions)

California’s System 2 (also known as § 703.140(b) exemptions) only applies in bankruptcy (they can’t be used to protect your property against creditors outside of bankruptcy). Certain courts have deemed bankruptcy-only exemption systems to be unconstitutional while others allow debtors to use them.

Some courts might not allow you to use the System 2 exemptions (especially when filing for bankruptcy outside of California because of domicile rules). Consider talking to a knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney about exemptions permitted in your area.

California 703 Homestead Exemption

Under System 2, California’s homestead exemption is $29,275 for real or personal property used as a residence – 703.140(b)(1).

For more information, see The California Homestead Exemption.

California 703 Motor Vehicle Exemption

In System 2, you can exempt up to $5,850 of equity in motor vehicles.

Personal Property

  • Burial plot up to $29,275 instead of the homestead exemption – 703.140(b)(1).
  • Clothing, household goods, appliances, furnishings, animals, books, musical instruments, and crops up to $725 per item – 703.140(b)(3).
  • Jewelry up to $1,750 – 703.140(b)(4).
  • Health aids – 703.140(b)(9).
  • Wrongful death recoveries needed for support – 703.140(b)(11).
  • Personal injury recoveries up to $29,275 – 703.140(b)(11).

Retirement & Pensions

  • Tax-exempt retirement accounts (including 401(k)s, 403(b)s, profit-sharing, and money purchase plans, SEP and SIMPLE IRAs, and defined benefit plans) – 11 U.S.C. § 522.
  • IRAS and Roth IRAs (limits apply) – 11 U.S.C. § 522(b)(3)(C)(n).
  • ERISA-qualified pension, annuities, and benefits necessary for support – 703.140(b)(10).

Public Benefits

  • Unemployment compensation, Social Security, Veterans’ benefits, and public assistance – 703.140(b)(10).
  • Crime victims’ reparation benefits – 703.140(b)(11).

Tools of Trade

  • Tools, books, and implements of trade up to $8,725 – 703.140(b)(6).

Alimony & Child Support

  • Alimony and child support necessary for support – 703.140(b)(10).


  • Unmatured life insurance policy, other than credit – 703.140(b)(7).
  • Unmatured life insurance accrued interest, dividends, loan, cash, or surrender value up to $15,650 – 703.140(b)(8).
  • Disability benefits – 703.140(b)(10).
  • Loss of future earnings payments needed for support – 703.140(b)(11)(E).


  • $1,550 plus any unused amount of burial or homestead exemption in any property (currently $30,825 in total if the filer doesn’t use the homestead exemption) – 703.140(b)(5).