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Bankruptcy exemptions: Where is your domicile?

Every Washington resident should know that there are both federal bankruptcy laws and state bankruptcy laws. These laws will determine the exemption rules that apply to your situation. Depending on the state you reside in, you might have the right to select whether you will use state or federal bankruptcy exemptions.

For the purposes of your bankruptcy proceedings, the state you reside in is known as your "domicile." Even though you currently live in Washington, it does not necessarily mean that Washington is your domicile. Here's how you determine where your domicile is:

  • The 730-day rule: If you've lived in Washington for 2-plus years, then you are officially a resident of the state of Washington for purposed of your bankruptcy and bankruptcy exemption choices.
  • The 180-day rule: If you've lived in Washington for less than two years, you will use the bankruptcy exemptions for whatever was the last state you've lived in for six months during the two years before moving to Washington.

In some rare circumstances, bankruptcy filers will not qualify for bankruptcy under the statutes of any state. Perhaps this is because the bankruptcy filer was living overseas or moved around in a constant state of travel. In these circumstances, federal bankruptcy statutes will apply to the individual's situation when he or she does not have a qualifying state domicile.

If you want to know your state of domicile for bankruptcy purposes, you may wish to consult with a King County bankruptcy lawyer who can assist you to interpret how the 730-day rule and 180-day rule might apply to your situation.

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