Updated November 1, 2016
Like all states, Virginia 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. Some states allow debtors to choose between the state exemption system and a set of federal bankruptcy exemptions – but Virginia is not one of them. In Virginia, you must use the state exemptions below. In addition to this list, you may also use any applicable amounts in the federal nonbankruptcy exemptions.
Unless noted otherwise, if a couple is married and filing jointly in Virginia, 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?
Unless otherwise noted, all law references are to the Code of Virginia.
Homestead, Personal Property, or Both
34-4 - $5,000 plus $500 per dependent (if over 65 or a disabled veteran exemption is $10,000) for a residential property, personal property (in addition to other exemptions), or both. Must file homestead declaration prior to filing for bankruptcy (34-6).
34-26 - Motor vehicles up to $6,000; wearing apparel 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 are not 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. Judge may 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 $1,283,025.
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 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, 1 wagon or cart, pair of horses, pair of mules with gear; fertilizer to $1,000; 2 plows, harvest cradle, 2 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 sick 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.
64.2-309 - Decedent's family allowance for surviving spouse or minor children, up to $24,000.
34-26(1); 34-28.2 - Unpaid spousal or child support necessary for support.
34-13 - Unused homestead.
Add any applicable Federal Nonbankruptcy Exemptions.
This list includes the majority of bankruptcy exemptions available in Virginia. However, it may not include all exemptions, and states often create exceptions to specific exemptions. In addition, Virginia may have changed the amounts since this list was last updated. Consider checking with your local bankruptcy court or a local attorney.