Updated April 17, 2020
You won't lose everything when filing for bankruptcy in Virginia. Virginia's bankruptcy exemptions allow you to protect property you'll need to work and live, such as a home, car, and retirement account.
Find out more about Virginia bankruptcy filings.
To learn more about bankruptcy exemptions, the state exemption system, and the homestead exemption rules, read Bankruptcy Exemptions – What Can I Keep When I File for Bankruptcy?
Here are some of the more common exemptions in Virginia. When reviewing them, you'll want to keep these things in mind:
34-4 – You can exempt $5,000 plus $500 per dependent for residential property, personal property (in addition to other exemptions), or both. The amount increases to $10,000 if you're over 65 or a disabled veteran exemption. You must file a homestead declaration before filing for bankruptcy (34-6).
Important Note. As of July 2020, changes allow an additional exemption of real or personal property used as the principal residence of the householder or the householder's dependents not exceeding $25,000 in value. See 2020 Changes to Virginia Bankruptcy Exemptions for more information.
34-26 – Equity in a motor vehicle can be exempted up to $6,000.
34-13 – Any unused amount of the homestead exemption can be applied to protect other property.
34-26 - Clothing up to $1,000; household furnishings up to $5,000; firearms up to $3,000; family portraits and heirlooms up to $5,000; burial plot; wedding and engagement rings, family Bible; animals owned as pets, provided they aren't raised for sale or profit, and medically prescribed health aids.
34-28.1 - Personal injury recoveries and causes of action.
38.2-5604 - Health savings accounts and medical savings accounts.
64.2-310 - Surviving spouse (or minor children if there is no surviving spouse) may exempt up to $20,000 of deceased spouse's personal property.
34-29 - Greater of the following: 40 times the federal minimum hourly wage or minimum of 75% of disposable weekly earnings. A judge can approve more for a 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 maximum (amount changes).
34-34 - ERISA-qualified benefits to the same amount as allowed by federal bankruptcy law.
51.1-124.4 - State employees.
51.1-802 - County, city, and town employees.
51.1-200 - State police officers.
51.1-300 - Judges.
19.2-368.12 - Crime victims' compensation, unless seeking to discharge debt for treatment of a crime-related injury.
60.2-600 - Unemployment compensation.
63.2-506 - General assistance and aid to blind, aged, and disabled.
65.1-82 - Workers' compensation.
34-26(9) - Earned income tax credit.
Tools of Trade
44-96 - Arms, uniforms, and equipment of a military member.
34-26 - Tools, books, instruments, implements, equipment, and machines, including motor vehicles, vessels, and aircraft, necessary for use in occupation or trade up to $10,000.
34-27 - For farmer: tractor to $3,000, one wagon or cart, a pair of horses, a pair of mules with gear; fertilizer to $1,000; two plows, harvest cradle, two iron wedges, pitchfork, and rake.
38.2-3122 - Life insurance proceeds, dividends, interest, loan, cash, or surrender value.
38.2-3339 - Group life insurance policy or proceeds.
38.2-3406 - Accident, sickness, or industrial illness benefits.
38.2-3811 - Cooperative life insurance benefits.
38.2-4021 - Burial society benefits.
38:2-4118 - Fraternal benefit society benefits.
51.1-510 - Group life or accident insurance for government officials.
64.2-310 and 311 - Decedent's exempt property or homestead allowance for surviving spouse, up to $20,000.
34-26(1); 34-28.2 - Unpaid spousal or child support necessary for support.
Add any applicable federal nonbankruptcy exemptions.
Some people can keep all assets, but that isn't always true. Here's what will happen to nonexempt property:
You'll learn more about Chapter 7 and 13 in Which Type of Bankruptcy is Right for Me?
This list includes the majority of bankruptcy exemptions available in Virginia. However, it doesn't cover all exemptions. Also, states often create qualification requirements for specific exemptions, and Virginia might have changed the amounts since this list was last updated. Check the Code of Virginia or with a local bankruptcy lawyer.