Most people want to know whether they can keep valuable property before filing for bankruptcy—especially a home. If you qualify to use the West Virginia homestead exemption, you can protect some or all of the equity in your house. In this article, we explain:
For more information, read Filing for Bankruptcy in West Virginia. Not only will you find answers, but it includes helpful checklists and a link to an interactive bankruptcy quiz. Or, try the start-to-finish bankruptcy guide, What You Need to Know to File for Bankruptcy.
Some states allow bankruptcy filers to use the federal bankruptcy exemption system instead of the state system. Although West Virginia isn't one of these states, you can exempt up to $35,000 of equity in any real or personal property that you use as a residence. In effect, this exemption acts much like a wildcard exemption that allows you to protect any property of your choosing.
You can increase that amount to $70,000 if these conditions are met:
Learn more about filing considerations for married couples.
In West Virginia, the homestead exemption is automatic—you don't have to file a homestead declaration to claim the homestead exemption in bankruptcy. However, you'll still need to claim it on your bankruptcy paperwork. And depending on the bankruptcy chapter file, you'll need to meet other requirements to prevent losing your home. Find out more by reading either Your Home in Chapter 7 or Your Home in Chapter 13.
The $35,000 homestead exemption amount applies in bankruptcy only. Otherwise, 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 a lesser amount in their homes. A local attorney can explain the current amount and the claim procedure.
You'll find West Virginia's homestead exemption on the West Virginia Legislature's State Statutes & Constitution webpage (W. Va. Code Section 38-10-4.). Learn about finding state statutes in Laws and Legal Research.
This overview cannot provide all of the information you'll need to file a bankruptcy case. For more detailed information, consider buying a self-help book such as How to File Chapter 7 Bankruptcy by Attorney Cara O'Neill and Albin Renauer J.D.
Updated July 13, 2021