If you’re preparing to or have already filed for bankruptcy, then you may assume that all of your property is subject to being inventoried and liquidated to pay off your creditors. This isn’t the case though. Certain items qualify for bankruptcy exemptions under Washington state law. If you have any of these personal property items, then you may be allowed to keep them.
The Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 6.15.010 spells out what type of personal property is exempt from garnishment, attachment or execution here in this state.
This statute outlines how every family member’s clothing or jewelry is exempt provided that it doesn’t have a monetary value of over $3,500.
Individuals who file for bankruptcy are also allowed to retain their computer, printer and cellphone. The state statute doesn’t assign a monetary value limit to these. This same code also allows individuals who file for bankruptcy in Washington to retain their private collection of analog or digital electronic media collections and family keepsakes provided that their value doesn’t exceed $3,500.
State law allows debtors to hold on to furniture, household appliances and other related goods provided that their value doesn’t add up to more than $6,500 for a single individual or $13,000 for the family as a whole.
Individuals are allowed to exempt an additional $3,000 in goods. At least $1,500 of that can be cash. Individuals with certain types of debts such as private student loans may be more restricted as to the amount of money that they can have invested in a bond, stock or security. An individual may be limited as to how much they can maintain in a bank account as well.
Other state statutes allow debtors to claim exemptions for homesteads, insurance benefits or public retirement fund proceeds, cemetery grounds, nongarnished employment earnings and crime victims’ compensation.
Many individuals who file for bankruptcy assume that everything has to go and that they’ll be left destitute in the grand scheme of things. This doesn’t have to be the case though. An attorney can help you determine what is and isn’t exempt property under Washington state or federal law so that you can rest comfortably knowing where things stand here in your King County case.