Arizona Bankruptcy Exemptions part four: Waiver, Pensions, and Public Assistance

To finish off the series on Arizona’s bankruptcy exemptions is a unique set of exemptions. These exemptions may not apply in every proceeding, but it does not hurt to check with your bankruptcy lawyer to see what exemptions you may qualify for. A lot like trying to get a good refund, keeping as many of your assets in bankruptcy is like hitting the jackpot!

Waiver Exemption

The waiver of exemption rights becomes void and unenforceable unless they are specifically provided in A.R.S. § 33-1122 and require being done with advanced notice. A.R.S. § 33-1132

Pension Exemptions

The following are considered exempt unless specially noted:

  • Members of the Arizona Board of Regents. This includes the benefits, annuities, and the employee/employer contributions that have been established by the Arizona Board of Regents pursuant to A.R.S. § 15-1628. A.R.S. § 15-1628 (I)
  • IRA’s- In re Herrscher, 121 B.R. 29 (D. Ariz. 1990)
  • Police Officer’s Pension. The exemption does not apply to current court orders as a judgment of child support or child support arrearages. A.R.S. § 9-931
  • Fire Fighters’ Relief and Pension Fund and its distributive portions. The exemption does not apply to current court orders as a judgment of child support or child support arrearages. A.R.S. § 9-968
  • Arizona State Retirement System. The state employee’s benefits for survivors prior to retirement. A.R.S. § 38-762
  • Public Safety Personnel Retirement System. This includes the benefits, employee/employer contributions, including all interest, earnings, and credits. A.R.S. § 38-850 (C)
  • Arizona Ranger’s Pension. A.R.S. § 41-955

Public Benefit Exemptions

Unemployment benefits are exempt as long as the benefits are not tied into other funds, only the debts, and expenses that were incurred while the debtor was unemployed. A.R.S. § 23-783
Worker’s Compensation Benefits. A.R.S. § 23-1068
Welfare Benefits for Assistance. A.R.S. § 46-208

Federal non-bankruptcy exemptions

Even though you cannot use federal bankruptcy exemptions when you file for bankruptcy in Arizona, the state does allow you to use the exemptions that the federal government considers to be non-bankruptcy related.
Categories under the federal non-bankruptcy exemptions include:

  • Retirement benefits
  • Survivor’s benefits
  • Death and disability benefits
  • Money, benefits, and proceeds (different than the state exemptions)
  • Personal property
  • Miscellaneous

It is possible that you may be eligible for the exemptions that fall under the federal non-bankruptcy categories above. The best person to make that decision for you is a lawyer who practices bankruptcy.

Courts that Hear Bankruptcy Cases

Not all courts will hear bankruptcy filings. In the state of Arizona, there are only five courts that will take bankruptcy cases.

  • Phoenix
  • Tucson
  • Yuma
  • Flagstaff
  • Bullhead City

When preparing to file bankruptcy it is important for you to think about what court you are closest to and which one would be hearing your case. Another thing to keep in mind is what chapter you plan on filing.
To qualify for chapter 7 in the state of Arizona you must pass an income means test. If you do not pass this, your only available option would be to file chapter 13.