When filing for Bankruptcy certain property of the debtor is exempt from the Bankruptcy estate, which means that it is not subject to being taken by the Trustee and used to pay your debts.
When filing a Bankruptcy as a resident of Massachusetts a debtor can choose to use the exemptions allowed under either State or Federal law, but you must choose one or the other. There are many exemptions that are similar under both schemes, such as the exemption of most qualified retirement plans. A table of the maximum exemptions as of April 14, 2009 in categories where the state and federal exemptions differ significantly can be found here. Please note that these figures are subject to change and you should consult with an attorney to obtain the most current figures and to decide which option you should choose.
UPDATE: The Massachusetts Exemptions have recently changed. For more information read our post on the changes: New Massachusetts Property Exemptions: The Return of 2 Cows, 12 Sheep and 2 Swine.