Washington, D.C. Bankruptcy Laws & Exemptions
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Washington, D.C. Bankruptcy Laws

How to File Chapter 7 or 13 in Washington, D.C.

If you live in the District of Columbia and have considered filing bankruptcy, you may be able to put bankruptcy laws to work for you and seek the help of a local bankruptcy lawyer.

By speaking with a District of Columbia bankruptcy lawyer, you can learn more about Chapter 7 and 13 bankruptcy laws and how they may be able to help you eliminate debt and stop creditor harassment.

After reviewing the details of the bankruptcy process on this page, fill out the below free bankruptcy case review form to connect with a local lawyer.

Free Case Evaluation

Bankruptcy Laws for Washington, D.C.

During your first meeting with a District of Columbia bankruptcy lawyer, he or she will likely spend some time explaining the difference between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

You may be asked some questions or to fill out an intake sheet concerning your debts, personal property, and your financial goals. Your answers will help your bankruptcy lawyer guide you and make a decision about whether filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy is the right choice.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is called "liquidation" because the bankruptcy trustees in Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases have the option to liquidate any non-exempt property that the debtor owns.

In most cases, however, little or no property is sold because the filers don’t have any non-exempt property. In fact, state exemptions often cover your home, car and even wedding rings.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy can be an attractive option for debtors who do not own a lot of property because many unsecured debts can be discharged.

After filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the debtor should review which and how much of their property may be exempt from liquidation with their attorney.


  • 100 percent of the your aggregate interest in your primary residence.


  • 75 percent of disposable earnings, including periodic payments under pension and retirement plans.


  • One motor vehicle worth up to $2,575.

Personal Property

  • $8,625 in aggregate value of household furnishings, household goods, clothing, appliances, books, animals, crops or musical instruments. Or, $425 or any particular item.
  • $1,625 exemption for any implements, professional books, or tools of the trade.
  • $400 of the family library.
  • All family photos.
  • Up to $850 of interest in the property.
  • Any unused amount of the homestead exemption, up to $8,075.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is called "reorganization." Debtors who file for bankruptcy under Chapter 13 typically own more property and have some income. Chapter 13 may be a better fit for these people because it allows you to protect greater amounts of property.

In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, a repayment plan is generally approved by the court, allowing the debtor to catch up on past due bills, and put an end to threats of foreclosure and repossession.

After filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy, a debtor must put together a proposed repayment plan to repay debts over a three-five year period.

The Importance of Having a District of Columbia Bankruptcy Lawyer

Just because you live in a city swarming with lawyers and legislators, it doesn’t make the District of Columbia’s bankruptcy laws any easier to understand or apply.

A local bankruptcy can give you answers to specific questions about your case and how the laws may affect you.

Total Bankruptcy makes it easy to find a Washington, D.C. bankruptcy lawyer. Fill out the free case evaluation form on this page or call us at 877-349-1309, and we’ll connect you with a local bankruptcy lawyer right away.

Note: Keep in mind all laws are complex. If you need legal advice or want to fully understand how these laws affect you, please speak with a local attorney.

Laws may have changed since our last update. For the latest information on your state's bankruptcy laws, speak to a local bankruptcy lawyer.

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