West 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.
- WV Exemptions
- Real or personal property used as residence to $25,000; unused portion of homestead may be applied to any property (husband & wife may double)
W. Va. Code § 38-10-4 (a)
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.)
West 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.
- Fraternal benefit society benefits
W. Va. Code § 33-23-21
- Group life insurance policy or proceeds
W. Va. Code § 33-6-28
- Health or disability benefits
W. Va. Code § 38-10-4 (j)(3)
- Life insurance payments from policy for person you depended on, needed for support
W. Va. Code § 38-10-4 (k)(3)
- Unmatured life insurance contract's accrued dividend, interest, or loan value to $8,000, if debtor owns contract & insured is either debtor or a person on whom debtor is dependent
W. Va. Code § 38-10-4 (h)
- Unmatured life insurance contract, except credit insurance policy
W. Va. Code § 38-10-4 (g)
Miscellaneous other exemptions for West Virginia
West 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).
West 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.
- Animals, crops, clothing, appliances, books, household goods, furnishings, musical instruments to $400 per item, $8,000 total
W. Va. Code § 38-10-4 (c)
- Burial plot to $25,000, in lieu of homestead
W. Va. Code § 38-10-4 (a)
- Health aids
W. Va. Code § 38-10-4 (i)
- Jewelry to $1,000
W. Va. Code § 38-10-4 (d)
- Lost earnings payments needed for support
W. Va. Code § 38-10-4 (k)(5)
- Motor vehicle to $2,400
W. Va. Code § 38-10-4 (b)
- Personal injury recoveries to $15,000
W. Va. Code § 38-10-4 (k)(4)
- Prepaid higher education tuition trust fund and savings plan payments
W. Va. Code § 38-10-4 (k)(6)
- Wrongful death recoveries for person you depended on, needed for support
W. Va. Code § 38-10-4 (k)(2)
Auto Valuation Tools:
Both of these websites offer interactive tools to determine the current value of your used car.
West 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 assistance
W. Va. Code § 9-5-1
- Crime victims' compensation
W. Va. Code § 38-10-4 (k)(1)
- Social Security
W. Va. Code § 38-10-4 (j)(1)
- Unemployment compensation
W. Va. Code § 38-10-4 (j)(1)
- Veterans' benefits
W. Va. Code § 38-10-4 (j)(2)
- Workers' compensation
W. Va. Code § 23-4-18
West 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.
- Implements, books, & tools of trade to $1,500
W. Va. Code § 38-10-4 (f)
West 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 30 times the federal minimum hourly wage per week; bankruptcy judge may authorize more for low-income debtors
W. Va. Code § 38-5A-3
West 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.
- $800 plus unused portion of homestead or burial exemption, of any property)
W. Va. Code § 38-10-4 (e)