Jim Doyle, the governor of Wisconsin, has signed legislation that makes it easier for consumers in the state to keep more of their property under the bankruptcy laws in Wisconsin. In November, the legislature passed the bill and sent it to the governor’s desk, where it was signed on December 1.

Among the bill’s provisions include a significant boost to the Wisconsin homestead exemption–from $40,000 to $75,000. The homestead exemption is the amount of equity in your residence that can be protected from creditors or the bankruptcy trustee after you go Chapter 7. In other words, it can protect you and your family from being thrown out in the street. This is key because a home is the largest investment that most Wisconsin residents ever make.

The new law also hikes the value of other kinds of property that can be considered legally exempt from seizure. For example, the motor vehicle exemption goes from $1,200 to $4,000, and the business/farm property exemption rises from $7,500 to $15,000. The bill also eliminates the so-called marriage penalty, so married couples now for the first time can stack their homestead exemption (for a maximum exemption of $150,000).

The revamped exemptions take effect on December 16. Exemption amounts vary from state to state; this bill applies only to Wisconsin residents who may be considering a personal bankruptcy in Milwaukee or elsewhere within state borders. Exemptions were in general created to allow debtors to preserve certain life essentials and maintain some normalcy during and after the bankruptcy process.

Figuring out the exemptions can be complicated and should not be taken lightly. So if your financial condition puts you at the brink of an individual bankruptcy in Wisconsin, contact an experienced debt consolidation lawyer. A skilled bankruptcy attorney can thoroughly review your personal property, identify how exemptions might apply to your individual circumstances, and otherwise answer all your Wisconsin bankruptcy questions.