Updated April 16, 2020
In bankruptcy, the Virginia homestead exemption allows you to protect some equity in your home. Here you’ll find specific information about the homestead exemption in Virginia.
For information about how the homestead exemption works in both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy, see The Homestead Exemption in Bankruptcy. For more articles on exemptions, see our Bankruptcy Exemptions area.
Under the Virginia exemption system, homeowners can exempt up to $5,000 of their home or other property covered by the homestead exemption. Debtors may add $500 to this amount for each of their dependents. Debtors aged 65 and older, and veterans disabled by 40% or more, can exempt up to $10,000.
Effective July 2020, debtors will be able to deduct an additional $25,000 of real or personal property used as a residence. The amended exemption law states the following:
Homestead exemption of $5,000, or $10,000 if the debtor is 65 years of age or older, in cash, and, in addition, real or personal property used as the principal residence of the householder or the householder's dependents not exceeding $25,000 in value. This exemption may not be claimed in certain cases, such as payment of spousal or child support. (Code of Virginia § 34-4.)
You can find the Code of Virginia online on the Virginia General Assembly website (including upcoming statutory changes).
In Virginia, if a couple is married and filing jointly, each spouse can claim the full amount of each exemption—called “doubling”—amounting to a $10,000 homestead exemption. A local Virginia bankruptcy attorney will be in the best position to explain whether a couple can double the additional $25,000 exemption available as of July 2020.
In Virginia, the homestead exemption applies to real property, which includes your home or condominium. It also applies to personal property used as a residence, so your mobile home is also covered. You can apply any unused portion of the $5,000 homestead exemption to any other personal property (but not the new $25,000 exemption—this portion can be used only for property used as a residence).
The homestead exemption also applies to rents, profits and sale proceeds from any exempted property.
Some states allow bankruptcy filers to use the federal bankruptcy exemptions instead of the state exemptions. Virginia is not one of those states. If you reside in Virginia, you must use the state exemptions.
To learn more about which state exemptions apply to you, see Which Exemptions Can You Use in Bankruptcy?
In Virginia, you must file a homestead declaration (a form filed with the county recorder’s office to put on record your right to a homestead exemption) before you file for bankruptcy to claim the homestead exemption. Contact your county or city recorder for information about filing a homestead declaration.
If the property is held as a tenancy in the entirety, the property is jointly owned by a married couple as a single marital entity, not as individuals. In Virginia, if you hold property as a tenancy by the entirety, the entire amount is exempt against debts owed by only one spouse.
In Virginia, a surviving spouse of a decedent who was living in Virginia is allowed a homestead exemption of up to $20,000. If there is no surviving spouse, each minor child is entitled to an equal share of the aggregate $20,000.
Virginia’s homestead exemption is in the Code of Virginia Title 34. Specifically, Chapter 2, Sections 34-4 through 34-25 address the homestead exemptions of householders. You can find the Code of Virginia online on the Virginia General Assembly website. To learn how to find state statutes, check out Laws and Legal Research.
Avoid property loss by verifying all bankruptcy exemption amounts through independent research or by consulting with a local bankruptcy attorney.
Learn more about filing for bankruptcy in Virginia.