Can I Keep My Property?

Many people who file Chapter 7 bankruptcy do not lose any assets. The basic idea is that non-exempt assets are sold by the trustee and the proceeds used to pay administration costs of the bankruptcy and the balance paid to creditors. Therefore, determining whether your assets are exempt is critically important.


Generally you may elect Federal or Washington State exemptions but you cannot combine the two. It’s all of one or the other. If you have not lived in Washington continuously for the past two years you may have to use the exemptions of the state you lived in previously.

Commonly used Federal and State exemptions are as follows. (The exemptions are doubled for married couples both filing bankruptcy unless otherwise noted).



Federal Exemption

State Exemption




Any property (Wild card)

less claimed homestead

$3,000 total (married and single)
$1,500 limit on cash and deposits

Household items

$450 per item
up to $10,775


Cars, trucks, boats

One up to $3,450

One up to $3,250




Current payment for
alimony and child support

Unlimited if needed


Tools of trade


$5,000 total for single
and married filers

ERISA benefits,

Pension and
retirement plans

Unlimited to extent needed



$1,000 but unlimited by
superseding federal law


Disability or
Unemployment benefits



Life Insurance payments

Unlimited if purchased by
person you depend on and
is needed for support

Fully exempt

Life Insurance Policy

Loan value, accrued dividends
or interest up to $10,775

Unlimited with some

Personal injury claims

$20,200 with
some restrictions

$16,150 or payment of

lost future income to the

extent reasonably necessary

Annuity benefits

No exemption

$250 per month

Prepaid tuition

No exemption

Unlimited if purchased
More than 2 years
preceding bankruptcy



Call us for your free initial office conference to determine if you will lose assets in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing, or to find out what you can do to limit non-exempted assets.