Should you wait to file? If you are a homeowner filing a personal case, the answer might be yes.

Homeowners in Washington have traditionally used the Washington state exemptions since it protected so much more of the equity in a person’s house. The problem with the old exemptions was that you could only have $500.00 in a bank account and $3,250.00 in car value and an overall wildcard exemption of just $3,000.00.  If you had more than that then you would be forced to give it up or file a reorganization type bankruptcy where you had to pay your unsecured creditors the value that they would have received in a chapter 7.

The Washington State legislature has enacted significant changes to the Washington personal property exemption statutes, significantly improving them for individuals. The changes become effective July 23, 2023.

Here are some of the changes under the amendment:

– Pursuant RCW 6.15.010(1)(d), each married person of a spousal community is now “entitled to his or her own exemptions in this subsection…” In effect, this amendment doubles the personal property exemptions available to a marital community.

– Pursuant to RCW 6.15.010(1)(d)(ii), a wildcard exemption has been created exclusive to bankruptcy cases: “In a bankruptcy case, any other personal property, except personal earnings as provided under RCW 6.15.050(1), not to exceed $10,000 in value. The value shall be determined as of the date the bankruptcy petition is filed…”

– The amendment to RCW 6.15.010(1)(d)(iv) increased the exemption in a motor vehicle from $3,500 to $15,000 in aggregate value for each debtor.

– Exclusive to bankruptcy cases, RCW 6.15.010(1)(d)(viii) creates an unlimited exemption in personal injury proceeds: “In a bankruptcy case, the right to or proceeds of personal injury of the debtor or an individual of whom the debtor is a dependent; or the right to or proceeds of a payment in compensation of loss of future earnings of the debtor or an individual of whom the debtor is or was a dependent are free of the enforcement of the claims of creditors, except to the extent such claims are for the satisfaction of any liens or subrogation claims arising out of the claims for personal injury or death.”