Can I Keep My Bank Accounts If I File Bankruptcy?
During the initial consultation I often find that clients are concerned about the effect bankruptcy will have on their bank accounts. It’s a common myth that you’ll lose your bank accounts if you file bankruptcy. The truth is that in most cases bankruptcy will have little or no effect on your bank accounts.
With that said, if your bank is a creditor, (you owe the bank money) the bank may close out, freeze, or even take funds from your account to satisfy your debt. This may occur prior to filing for bankruptcy and post-filing as well. Therefore, I generally advise clients who have outstanding debt with their bank to find another bank where they do have any outstanding debt. Even though there’s a chance a creditor bank may leave your account alone, it’s very likely the bank will at least close your account(s). In conclusion, bankruptcy should not affect your relationship with your bank if you do not owe the bank money. If you do owe your bank money, you should consult with an experienced bankruptcy attorney in determining whether you should switch banking institutions.
How Much Money Can I Have in my Bank Account(s) on the Date I File Bankruptcy?
An individual filer may exempt up to $150 in one bank account. A.R.S. § 33-1126(A)(9). Married filers may protect two accounts with up to $150 in each account, or up to $300 in one account. There is no exemption for any amount of cash on hand. Prior to filing for bankruptcy you may use excess money in your account to purchase exempt property, pay attorneys’ fees, and pay everyday necessary and reasonable expenses. However, you may not spend excess on paying off certain debts, such as a debt to a family member or friend. If you have excess funds in your bank account and are considering filing bankruptcy, you should consult with a qualified bankruptcy lawyer in Arizona in determining where you can safely spend the excess funds.