Wyoming Bankruptcy Exemptions

Forum Shopping Homestead Allowances and the Wyoming bankruptcy exemption allowances

By national standards, Wyoming bankruptcy exemptions hover near the lowest available in throughout the entire country. Further, the state of Wyoming prevents citizens from claiming the Section 522 federal exemption list provided by Title 11 of the United States Code. Much can be said about the rationale for values chosen by the Wyoming Legislature, but ultimately, the exemption values have remained virtually stagnant for decades with little indication of change.

Forum shopping to avoid Wyoming state law

Following the enactment of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention Act, two years state residency is required as a condition of claiming state exemptions. For Wyoming residents, because federal exemptions are not available, moving to another state jurisdiction to gain more favorable law (known as forum shopping) is subject to the two year residency requirement. For instance, seven states provide homestead exemptions in excess of $100,000 exempt equity, and six states do not limit equity value but limit total acreage only (subject to $225,000 federal cap). But in Wyoming, the homestead exemption amount is limited to $10,000 equity value. Courts frown upon forum shopping, yet little can be done to restrict a U.S. citizen from moving from one state to another, to find a better job and establish their new home.