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Help me understand my exemption options if my wife is not filing.

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  • Help me understand my exemption options if my wife is not filing.

    As many of you already know, I am dealing with a lawsuit from Discover Card/Gurstel Chargo for more than $7k which I do not have and cannot get. Thus, if the suit results in a judgment, I am planning to file for bankruptcy ASAP. I am therefore, doing my research now, and starting to prepare the necessary documents so I can file promptly after receiving notification of a judgment--before the creditor has a chance to do anything with said judgment.

    I am married, and live in Arizona, which is a community property state. All of the debts were incurred and defaulted long before the marriage took place, and my wife has already been dismissed from the lawsuit. Therefore, any judgment will be in my name alone, which means that it's probably not in her interest to file for bankruptcy, unless not filing would result in us losing exemptions.

    So if I file alone, and we have personal property which would exceed the exemption amounts for a single filer--but would be fully exempt for a married couple filing jointly--how does that work, and how to I list said property and exemptions on the forms? Also, if I have a small amount of money in the bank--less than $600--which would be exempt assuming a joint filing, and a small tax return of about $250-$300, how can I exempt my wife's share of this money if she doesn't file? The bank account is in my name solely, and the tax return is for a job worked by me over the summer.

    I am not really interested in having my wife file, and ruin her credit--especially since there won't be a judgment against her--but she is willing to file if that is necessary to avoid losing significant assets to the BK trustee. We are not homeowners (we rent a small apartment) and we do not own any vehicles (the car I drive is owned by my dad) and we usually keep $300 to $800 in the bank. Nothing that we have is particularly valuable; we have old clothes, an old tube TV, an old DVD/VCR player, two old laptops, one of which doesn't even have a working battery anymore, and an old printer/scanner/copier which I found next to a dumpster. We don't own the appliances, as they're part of the apartment, other than a microwave oven, toaster oven, and a couple of fans. These items are all more than 10 years old.

    So mainly, the concern is exempting money, which this state is not very generous about. Depending on when in the month I file, with regard to the bank account and tax return, this could be about $1000, or less. I would like to exempt my wife's share of that money, if at all possible.

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