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Can the trustee fight my homestead exemption in Washington state?

Vancouver, WA |

I am considering filing bankruptcy but have about 50k in equity in my home. I have never been late on a mortgage payment and want to keep my home. I live in Washington state, where the homestead exemption is 125k. Can anyone (like the trustee) fight that and take my home away from me anyways?

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Attorney answers 5


There are two exemption schemes in Washington. If you have that much equity in your home, your personal property exemption will be very limited.

Since you cannot "unfile" a bankruptcy, make sure you do it right the first time. The trustee will not "fight" you if you do not give him/her a reason. You should definitely consider hiring a lawyer as it will costs much more to defend against a badly filed bankruptcy.

Information applicable in Washington State. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. Arrow Law Group, PLLC is a debt relief agency as defined by the United States Bankruptcy Code. We help people file for relief under Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 of the United States Bankruptcy Code.



What sort of stuff qualifies as "personal property"? I own my car outright (it's probably worth around $2500), I have the furniture in my home, and I have a small 401k, but other than that, I don't have anything else.

Minh T. Tran

Minh T. Tran


Anything that is not real property (real estate) is considered personal property. If you need a referral for an attorney in Clark County, please let me know. Minh Tran Sent from my mobile device. Please excuse the brevity.


Mr. Tran is entirely correct. With so much value at stake, the trustee is sure to scrutinize your petition for any defect he can convert to money for the creditors. In doing so, he will not be treating you specially, but merely doing his job. Professional legal assistance will be essential. To locate a reliable lawyer, use the attorney-finder at

Best wishes for a favorable outcome, and please remember to designate a best answer.

This answer is offered as a public service for general information only and may not be relied upon as legal advice.


The Trustee has a limited period of time (30 days after the 341 meeting concludes) to object to your exemptions. In more than 30 years of appearing in bankruptcy court, I have only gotten into a fight with the Trustee twice over exemptions & was successful both times. Experienced representation does make a difference. Hope this perspective helps!


Exemptions are liberally construed in favor of the debtor. Assuming you have lived in Washington for at least two years you should be entitled to the WA homestead exemption of $125K. Assuming no oddities (your questions seems straight forward), you should be fine. A good attorney can make you feel at ease on this.

My response is general information not intended as legal advice or to create an attorney-client relationship. Seek advice from a qualified attorney to see how the law fits your specific facts. I am licensed to practice law in Washington and Oregon.


I'll echo what everyone else has already stated. In order to protect the equity in your home, you'll have to file under the Washington State exemptions, rather than Federal exemptions (which provides for more generous personal property exemptions). If your petition is prepared correctly, and there are no red flags in your case, the Trustee will not be able to take your home away. However, to ensure that your home is protected, it is well worth the fee to consult with an experienced bankruptcy attorney to prepare your petition and supporting schedules.

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