Virginia Homestead Exemption
Almost every state provides protection for equity in the family home, and many states have increased the amount of protection in recent years. Seven states offer unlimited protection. Most states are not as generous.
New Federal Residency Requirement
Under the new bankruptcy law, you must be have lived in the state for at least 40 months (three years and four months) before you can claim any homestead protection greater than $160,375. (If your state's exemption offers less than this amount, the law is irrelevant to you.) The law is poorly worded but seems to say that if you move from one home to another in the same state, you can claim that state's homestead protection.
- VA Exemptions
- $5,000 plus $500 per dependent; rents & profits; sale proceeds exempt to $5,000 (husband & wife may double, unused portion of homestead may be applied to any personal property); if 65 or older, exemption is $10,000
Va. Code Ann. § 34-4 (basic exemption)
Cheeseman v.Nachman,, 656 F.2d 60 (4th Cir. 1981) (husband and wife may double exemption)
Va. Code Ann. § 34-18 (rents and proceeds exempt too)
Va. Code Ann. § 34-20 (proceeds of sale exempt)
- May include mobile home.
In re Hoss, 233 B.R. 684 (W.D. Va 1999) (Overrules GOAD in lein stripping context)
- Must file homestead declaration before filing for bankruptcy
Va. Code Ann. § 34-6
- Property held as tenancy by the entirety may be exempt against debts owed by only one spouse
In re Bunker, 312 f.3d 145 (4th Cir 2002)
In re Williams, 104 F.3d 668 (4th Cir 1997)
- Surviving spouse may claim $15,000; if no surviving spouse, minor children may claim exemption
Va. Code Ann. § 64.2-311
Home Valuation tool
Just add your street address to get an estimate of the value of your house, and all others in your neighborhood. (Note: Does not serve all areas, and valuations are imperfect estimates only.)
Virginia Insurance exemptions
Virtually all states protect life insurance proceeds in some manner or another. Some restrict it to proceeds paid to a dependent. Many states also protect the cash-value or loan-value of insurance policies.
If a substantial amount of your assets are in life insurance, you may want to consult a professional to determine the extent to which those policies are exempt.
- Accident or sickness benefits
Va. Code Ann. § 38.2-3406
- Burial society benefits
Va. Code Ann. § 38.2-4021
- Cooperative life insurance benefits
Va. Code Ann. § 38.2-3811
- Fraternal benefit society benefits
Va. Code Ann. § 38.2-4118
- Group life insurance policy or proceeds
Va. Code Ann. § 38.2-3339
- Group life or accident insurance for government officials
Va. Code Ann. § 51.1-510
- Industrial sick benefits
Va. Code Ann. § 38.2-3549
- Life insurance proceeds
Va. Code Ann. § 38.2-3122
Miscellaneous other exemptions for Virginia
- Decedents family allowance to $24,000 for surving spouse, or minor children if no surviving spouse.
Va. Code Ann. § 64.2-309
- Property of business partnership
Va. Code Ann. § 50-73.108(Not subject to claim or attachment except on a claim against the partnership)
Va. Code Ann. § 50-73.105(Partner has no transferrable interest in partnership property.)
- Right to recieve unpaid spousal or child support necessary for support
Va. Code Ann. § 34-26 (10)
Va. Code Ann. § 34-28.2
Virginia Pensions & Retirement Savings Exemptions
The new federal bankruptcy law now automatically exempts a virtually all tax-exempt pensions and retirement savings accounts from bankruptcy, even if you are using state law exemptions. 11 U.S.C. § 522(b)(3)(C). (See Help Topic: Special Rules For Retirement Accounts.)
The law protects up to $1,283,025 of any pension or retirement fund that qualifies forspecial tax treatment under Internal Revenue Code sections 401,402, 403, 408, 408A, 414, 457, or 501(a).
- All types of IRAs and ERISA-qualified benefits to 'same extent as permitted under federal bankruptcy law for such a plan"
Va. Code Ann. § 34-34
- City, town, & county employees
Va. Code Ann. § 51.1-802
Va. Code Ann. § 51.1-300
- State employees
Va. Code Ann. § 51.1-124.4 (A)
- State police officers
Va. Code Ann. § 51.1-200
Virginia Personal Property Exemptions
This category covers your car, your non-retirement bank accounts, and most of your other personal possessions, other than your house.
States vary widely on how generous they are in this area. Some exemptions may be for any combination of property up to an aggregate amount. Other exemptions apply only to specific items, such as jewelry.
Remember that an exemption will not protect your car from being repossessed by the holder of the car loan you used to purchase the vehicle if you pledged the vehicle as security for the loan. To keep the car, you will have to pursue other options such as 'redemption' or 'reaffirmation.' See the help topics and How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy for more on this.
Va. Code Ann. § 34-26 (1)
- Burial plot
Va. Code Ann. § 34-26 (3)
- Clothing to $1,000
Va. Code Ann. § 34-26 (4)
- Family portraits & heirlooms to $5,000 total
Va. Code Ann. § 34-26 (2)
- Firearms to $3,000 total
Va. Code Ann. § 34-26 (4b)
- Health aids
Va. Code Ann. § 34-26 (6)
- Health savings accounts and medical savings accounts
Va. Code Ann. § 38.2-5604
- Household furnishings to $5,000
Va. Code Ann. § 34-26 (4a)
- Motor vehicles to $6,000 total ($10,000 if needed for occupation or education)
Va. Code Ann. § 34-26 (8)
Va. Code Ann. § 34-26 (7)
- Personal injury causes of action & recoveries
Va. Code Ann. § 34-28.1
Va. Code Ann. § 34-26 (5)
- Prepaid tuition contracts and savings trust accounts
Va. Code Ann. § 23-38.81 (E)
- Spendthrift trusts
Va. Code Ann. § 64.2-743
- Surviving spouse may claim $20,000 of decedents personal property; if no surviving spouse, minor children may claim exemption
Va. Code Ann. § 64.2-310
- Wedding and engagement rings
Va. Code Ann. § 34-26 (1a)
Auto Valuation Tools:
Both of these websites offer interactive tools to determine the current value of your used car.
Virginia Public Benefits Exemptions
Most states exempt public benefits, consistent with the notion that such benefits are intended as a safety net for the recipient.
- Aid to blind, aged, disabled; general relief
Va. Code Ann. § 63.2-506
- Crime victims' compensation unless seeking to discharge debt for treatment of injury incurred during crime
Va. Code Ann. § 19.2-368.12
- Earned Income Tax Credit
Va. Code Ann. § 34-26 (9)
- Payments to tobacco farmers
Va. Code Ann. § 3.1-1111.1
- Unemployment compensation
Va. Code Ann. § 60.2-600
- Workers' compensation
Va. Code Ann. § 65.2-531
Virginia Tools of Trade Exemptions
These are the things you use to make a living. An automobile or truck can be a tool of trade if you use it as such. Commuting to work doesn't count, but if driving is a necessary component of transacting your business, you can claim your vehicle is a tool of trade.
- For farmer, pair of horses, or mules with gear; one wagon or cart, one tractor to $3,000; 2 plows & wedges; one drag, harvest cradle, pitchfork, rake; fertilizer to $1,000
Va. Code Ann. § 34-27
- Tools, books, and instruments of trade, including motor vehicles, to $10,000, needed in your occupation or education
Va. Code Ann. § 34-26 (7)
- Uniforms, arms, equipment of military member
Va. Code Ann. § 44-96
Virginia Wage Garnishment Laws
Most states have a wage garnishment law. In some states, wage garnishment laws can be used in bankruptcy as an exemption to protect income that you had coming due, but not yet received, as of the day you filed, for work you had already done -- so called "earned but unpaid wages".
In some states, the wage garnishment law protects not only wages owed to you, but also wages already in your possession and saved over time preferably holding it in a separate bank account. In other states wage garnishment laws do not protect wages once they are they are in your possession.
- Minimum 75% of weekly disposable earnings or 40 times the federal minimum hourly wage, whichever is greater; bankruptcy judge may authorize more for low-income debtors
Va. Code Ann. § 34-29
- Parent w household gross income, including any support payments for children living in the home, less than $1,750 per month, can exempt from wage garnishment:
* $34 per week for one child;
* $52 per week for two children;
* $66 per week for three or more children
Va. Code Ann. § 34-4.2(34-4.2. Additional exemption for parents of dependent children)
Virginia Wild Card Exemption
Most, but not all, states allow a so-called "wild-card" exemption that can apply to any property. The wild card exemption can be of particular help if one or more of your other exemptions falls short of protecting your equity. You may split your wild card exemption amount over multiple items and stack it atop other exemptions as needed to protect exposed equity.