How much of my home equity is off-limits to creditors under the new bankruptcy law?
Most state exemption schemes, and the Bankruptcy Code exemption scheme, allow a debtor to exempt some amount of the equity (that is, the excess value over and above mortgage and other liens) in the debtor's principal residence. As mentioned above on the question of moves, the homestead exemption for interests acquired within 1215 days of filing is limited to $125,000. There are other situations in which BAPCPA limits or eliminates a homestead exemption.
The value of a home is reduced to the extent it is attributable to a transfer made within 10 years preceding the bankruptcy filing if (a) the assets transferred would not be exempt if they had been held on the petition date, and (b) the transfer was made with the intent to hinder, delay or defraud any creditor. Since an exemption may be claimed only to the extent of an asset's value, this provision effectively reduces the available homestead exemption when it applies.
A homestead exemption is limited to $125,000 if, within the past 5 years, the debtor committed certain kinds of securities-law violations, federal felonies, or civil RICO violations. The homestead is likewise limited to $125,000 if the debtor owes a debt arising from any criminal act, intentional tort, or willful or reckless misconduct that caused serious physical injury or death to another individual in the preceding 5 years.
Note that the foregoing provisions relative to homestead exemptions apply to cases filed after April 20, 2005.