Bankruptcy provides an individual, who is overwhelmed with debt, the opportunity for a fresh financial start. As part of the process, the individual is left with enough possessions to maintain their dignity and to assist them towards a fresh start. The property exempt from seizure is set by the provinces, the territories and the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act.
Bankruptcy exemptions refer to the equity in the property that is exempt from seizure in a bankruptcy. (For example, if you have a vehicle worth $20,000 and there is a $15,000 secured loan against it, the equity in the vehicle would be $5,000).
The exemptions in British Columbia are as follows:
- Equity in your principal residence in Greater Vancouver and Victoria up to a value of $12,000. In the rest of the province up to a value of $9,000;
- Equity in household items up to a value of $4,000;
- Equity in a vehicle up to a value of $5,000. The vehicle exemption drops to $2,000 if the person is behind on child care payments (to facilitate the enforcement of Maintenance Orders);
- Equity in tools of the trade up to a value of $10,000;
- Exemptions are in effect for all registered retirement savings plans (RRSP’s, RRIF’s and DPSP’s). Contributions made in the 12 months prior to the date of bankruptcy will be recovered (clawed back) for the benefit of the bankruptcy estate. RESP’s are not exempt.
- Equity in essential clothing and medical aids is unlimited.