There may be more than one place where you can file your bankruptcy. The statute indicates you can file where you reside, where you are domiciled or where your principal assets are located. Lets say your permanant address is in Willingboro New Jersey. That is where you have lived and that is where you intend on living. Willingboro NJ is therefore your domicile. But what if you have an ill mother living in Northeast Philadelphia Pennsylvania and you moved in with her for the last nine months to help her. The Philadelphia address is your residence and you could file in either place. If you own, for example, a vacation home in North Carolina and that is your most valuable asset, you could also use North Carolina as the venue to file and file there. For most people they can only file in one place. But as you see, that is not always the case.
When a bankruptcy is filed the individuals filing are allowed to protect a certain amount of equity in their assets and keep those exempt assets. In New Jersey and Pennsylvania debtors filing bankruptcy can protect assets using Federal or state exemptions. Except for certain types of assets, most bankruptcies in New Jersey or Pennsylvina rely on Federal Exemptions. Those Federal Exemptions increased as of April 1, 2019. For example, the amount of equity in your residence increased from $23,675.00 per owner to $25,150.00 per owner. Household goods and furnishing exemptions increased from $12,625 to $13,400.00. Other increases include motor vehicle from $3,775.00 to $4,000.00, jewelry from $1,600.00 to $1700.00 and proceeds from personal injury lawsuit from $23,675.00 to $25,150.00. As a result, even when filing a chapter 7 bankruptcy often the debtor will not lose any assets in the process.
Let's say you have a home in Northeast Philadelphia Pennsylvania and a vacation home in Margate New Jersey or a commercial property in Cherry Hill New Jersey. Should you file in Philadelphia Pennsylvania or can you file in New Jersey as well. 28 USC section 1408 says you can file where your domicile is located or where you reside or where your principal assets are located. So the answer can be either state, depending on circumstances. While the basic bankruptcy law is the same, there are differences in how certain sections are interpreted so it makes sense to consult an experienced Bankruptcy attorney to see what is best in your particular circumstances
Whether you can keep your home depends on various factors including the amount of equity in the property. The amount of equity you can protect in your residence depends on the exemptions available. If you live in, for example, Pennsauken New Jersey, you can protect approximately $24,000 each in your home. If you live in Philadelphia Pennsylvania you have the same Federal exemption of about $24,000. In Pennsylvania in the situation where property is owned by a husband and wife and there are no joint debts and only one spouse files the equity can be protected. Some states provide significantly more protection. Most times when a chapter 7 is filed the debtors can keep their home as long as they are able to make their mortgage payments