Wildcard exemption is one of a few exemptions the Federal government and state governments allow in bankruptcy that protects some of the debtor’s personal assets from creditors. In Federal bankruptcy and in states where the wildcard exemption is allowed, the wildcard exemption can be applied to any of a person’s assets like a sentimental heirloom. Most other exemptions only apply to specific items like the homestead or motor vehicle exemptions. The wildcard exemption often can be used on its own or used in combination with another exemption like for a vehicle worth more than the motor vehicle exemption. For Federal bankruptcy, the wildcard exemption is $1,250 plus any unused homestead exemptions up to $11,850. Only some states have wildcard exemptions and they can vary from $400 in Maine to over $30,000 in California.
[Last updated in October of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]