In West Virginia, if you file for bankruptcy you can protect up to $25,000 of your home equity (more if you're married and filing jointly) -- this is called the homestead exemption. Here you’ll find specific information about the homestead exemption in West 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 West Virginia exemption system, homeowners may exempt up to $25,000 of their home or other property covered by the homestead exemption.
If you are a physician licensed under Article Three or Fourteen of the West Virginia Constitution and you filed bankruptcy because of a medical malpractice debt and carry at least one million dollars of medical malpractice insurance, you may protect up to $250,000 in your home.
In West Virginia, if you and your spouse file a joint bankruptcy and own your home jointly, you may double the homestead exemption amount and protect up to $50,000 of your home. Learn more about joint bankruptcy filings in Nolo's section on Bankruptcy Considerations for Married Couples.
In West Virginia, the homestead exemption applies to real or personal property, including your home, condominium, co-op, or burial plot. You or your dependents must use the property as a residence.
Some states allow bankruptcy filers to use the federal bankruptcy exemptions instead of the state exemptions. West Virginia is not one of those states. If you reside in West 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 West Virginia, the homestead exemption is automatic – you don’t have to file a homestead declaration in order to claim the homestead exemption in bankruptcy.
Unlike many states that allow you to protect your home whether you file bankruptcy or not, you may only use the $25,000 West Virginia homestead exemption if you file for bankruptcy. If you do not file for bankruptcy, the West Virginia Constitution (Article 48, Section 6) allows a husband or parent residing in West Virginia, or the children of deceased parents, to protect up to $5,000 in their homes, although you may not use this exemption to protect your home from debts owed for taxes, purchasing your home, or improving your home.
If you don’t use the homestead exemption in West Virginia, you may protect up to $25,000 of any other property that belongs to you.
West Virginia’s homestead exemption is found in the West Virginia Code at W. Va. Code Section 38-10-4. To learn how to find state statutes, check out Nolo’s Laws and Legal Research area.