Richard J. Shurtz, Attorney at Law

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State or federal bankruptcy exemptions available in Washington

Washington consumer bankruptcy attorneys are the most knowledgeable professionals to consult when one is struggling with overwhelming consumer debt. With experience in handling many common and not-so-common debt problems over the years, they are well-equipped to explain to an individual or married couple their various options. They will explain whether they qualify for relief, how the bankruptcy system works, and other debt relief measures that may be pursued. Obtaining a consultation with an experienced consumer bankruptcy attorney is easy to do, and the meeting is usually offered as a free service.

When all of the hype and urban legends about bankruptcy are stripped away, the most significant fact that emerges is that it is the only remedy available that can quickly and permanently erase whatever mountain of unsecured debt that the consumer has accumulated. With respect to secured debt, it may be paid as normal during and after a Chapter 7 if the secured loan account is up-to-date. Where there is an arrearage on a mortgage or car loan, the consumer will have to decide whether to relinquish the property in a Chapter 7 or to file a Chapter 13 and attempt to keep the property through a Chapter 13 payment plan.

A Chapter 13 may also be required if the owners have nonexempt equity in their home. This is another important issue that can only be fully examined in a meeting with a consumer bankruptcy attorney. In Washington, consumers have the option of choosing exemptions under state or federal bankruptcy exemptions. Where there is considerable equity in the home, the Washington exemptions may be preferable because they provide up to $125,000 for the homestead exemption.

In other respects, the federal exemptions may be more generous. Washington residents are fortunate in that not all states allow for the filer to choose between the federal or state exemptions. In many states, one must use the state exemptions. For potential filers in this state, it is clear that the best way to understand the full process, know the options and strategies available, and determine whether one is qualified, is to consult with a seasoned consumer bankruptcy attorney.


Source: U.S. News & World Report, "Here's How to Survive Bankruptcy", Steven Abrams, April 17, 2018

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