Like all states, Washington has its own set of exemptions that you may use when filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Exemptions determine what property (such as a home, car, instrument, retirement account, etc.) you may keep in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and how much you must pay to certain creditors in Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
In Washington, you may use either the Washington state exemptions (listed below), or the federal bankruptcy exemptions (you can find these in Federal Bankruptcy Exemptions). You cannot mix and match from each list. If you choose to use the Washington state exemptions, you may also use any applicable amounts in the federal nonbankruptcy exemptions.
Unless noted otherwise, if a couple is married and filing jointly in Washington, each spouse may claim the full amount of each exemption. This is informally called “doubling.”
To learn more about bankruptcy exemptions, including how they work, which state exemption system you should use, and special rules for the homestead exemption, see Bankruptcy Exemptions – What Can I Keep When I File for Bankruptcy?
Washington Bankruptcy Exemptions
Unless otherwise noted, all law references are to the Revised Code of Washington Annotated.
6.13.010 - Real property or mobile home up to $125,000. If property is unimproved but intended to be occupied at time of filing bankruptcy up to $15,000. Spouses may not double. Before sale of home if the property is unoccupied or unimproved, a homestead declaration must be filed (6.15.040)
6.15.010 - Motor vehicle up to $3,250 if single or 2 vehicles up to $6,500 if community; clothing, but furs, jewelry & ornaments limited to $3,500; household goods, furniture, appliances, home and yard equipment up to $6,500 ($13,000 for husband and wife); pictures and keepsakes; books and electronic media to $3,500; food and fuel for comfortable maintenance; prepaid tuition; prescribed health aids; and personal injury awards up to $16,150.
6.15.020 - Health savings account and medical savings account deposits.
6.15.030 - Fire insurance for lost, stolen or destroyed exempt property.
68.20.120 - Burial plots if sold by a nonprofit cemetery association.
68.24.220 - Burial ground.
6.27.150 - The greater of the following: 30 times the federal hourly minimum wage or minimum of 75% of disposable earnings. Judge may approve more for low income debtor.
11 U.S.C. § 522 - Tax exempt retirement accounts (including 401(k)s, 403(b)s, profit-sharing and money purchase plans, SEP and SIMPLE IRAs, and defined benefit plans).
11 U.S.C. § 522(b)(3)(C)(n) - IRAS and Roth IRAs to $1,171,150.
2.10.180 - Judges.
6.15.020 - ERISA-qualified benefits, including IRAs and Keoghs.
41.24.240 - Volunteer firefighters.
41.26.053 - Law enforcement officials and firefighters.
41.28.200 - City employees.
41.32.052 - Teachers.
41.40.050 - Public employees and state employees.
43.43.310 - State patrol officers.
41.20.180 - Police officers.
7.68.070 - Crime victims' compensation.
50.40.020 - Unemployment compensation.
51.32.040 - Industrial insurance (workers' compensation).
74.04.280 - General assistance.
74.08.210 - Old-age assistance.
74.13.070 - Child welfare.
Tools of Trade
6.15.010 - Tools and materials used in any trade up to $10,000; library, office furniture, equipment and supplies of a physician, surgeon, attorney, clergyman or other professional up to $10,000; farm trucks, tools, equipment, supplies, stock and seed of a farmer up to $10,000.
Alimony and Child Support
6.15.010 - Child support payments.
48.36A.180 - Disability benefits, proceeds, dividends, interest, loan, cash, or surrender value.
48.18.410 - Life insurance proceeds, dividends, interest, loan, cash, or surrender value if the insured is not the beneficiary.
46.18.420 - Group life insurance policy or proceeds.
46.18.430 - Annuity contract proceeds up to $2,500 per month.
48.18.400 - Fraternal benefit society benefits.
6.15.010 - $3,000 of any personal property, but not more than $1,500 of it in cash, bank deposits, stocks, bonds, or other securities.
Add any applicable Federal Nonbankruptcy Exemptions.
This list includes the majority of bankruptcy exemptions available in Washington. However, it may not include all exemptions, and states often create exceptions to specific exemptions. In addition, Washington may have changed the amounts since this list was last updated in June of 2011. Consider cross-checking this list with www.legalconsumer.com, which updates the state exemption amounts regularly, or check with your local bankruptcy court.