Washington DC State Bankruptcy Exemptions


§ 15-501. Exempt property of householder; property in transitu; debt for wages

(a) The following property of the head of a family or householder residing in the District of Columbia, or of a person who earns the major portion of his livelihood in the District of Columbia, being the head of a family or householder, regardless of his place of residence, is free and exempt from distraint, attachment, levy, or seizure and sale on execution or decree of any court in the District of Columbia:

(1) the debtor's interest, not to exceed $ 2,575 in value, in one motor vehicle;

(2) the debtor's interest, not to exceed $ 425 in value, in any particular item or $ 8,625 in aggregate value in household furnishings, household goods, wearing apparel, appliances, books, animals, crops, or musical instruments, that are held primarily for the personal family or household use of the debtor or a dependent of the debtor;

(3) the debtor's aggregate interest in any property, not to exceed $ 850 in value, plus up to $ 8,075 of any unused amount of the exemption provided under paragraph (14) of this subsection;

(4) the debtor's aggregate interest, not to exceed $ 1,625 in value, in any implements, professional books, or tools of the trade of the debtor or the trade of a dependent of the debtor (this exemption shall also apply to merchants);

(5) any unmatured life insurance contract owned by the debtor, other than a credit life insurance contract;

(6) professionally prescribed health aids for the debtor or a dependent of the debtor;

(7) the debtor's right to receive:

(A) a social security benefit;

(B) a veteran's benefit;

(C) a disability, illness, or unemployment benefit;

(D) alimony, support, or separate maintenance, to the extent reasonably necessary for the support of the debtor and any dependent of the debtor; and

(E) a payment under a stock bonus, pension, profit-sharing, annuity, or similar plan or contract on account of illness, disability, death, age, or length of service, to the extent reasonably necessary for the support of the debtor and any dependent of the debtor, unless:

(i) the plan or contract was established by or under the auspices of an insider that employed the debtor at the time the debtor's rights under the plan or contract arose;

(ii) the payment is on account of age or length of service; and

(iii) the plan or contract does not qualify under section 401(a) or 403(b) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, approved October 22, 1986 (100 Stat. 2085; 26 U.S.C.S. § 1 et seq.) ("1986 Code");

(8) all family pictures; and all the family library, not exceeding $ 400 in value;

(9) notwithstanding subsection (b) of this section, money or other assets payable to a participant or beneficiary from, or an interest of a participant or beneficiary in, a retirement plan qualified under sections 401(a), 403(a), 403(b), 408, 408A, 414(d), or 414(e) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, approved October 22, 1986 (100 Stat. 2085; 26 U.S.C.S. § 1 et seq.) ("1986 Code") or section 409 (as in effect prior to January 1984) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954, approved August 6, 1954 (68A Stat. 3; 26 U.S.C.S. § 1 et seq.); provided that:

(A) this paragraph shall not apply to:

(i) an alternate payee under a qualified domestic relations order, as defined in section 414(p) of the 1986 Code;

(ii) a retirement plan, qualified under section 401(a) of the 1986 Code, as a creditor of an individual retirement account qualified under section 408 of the 1986 Code; or

(iii) any claims by, or any indebtedness, liability, or obligation owed to, the District of Columbia;

(B) if a contribution to a retirement plan described in this paragraph exceeds the amount deductible or, in the case of a contribution under § 408A of the 1986 Code, the maximum contribution allowed under the applicable provisions of the 1986 Code, the portion of the contribution that exceeds the amount deductible or, in the case of a contribution under § 408A of the 1986 Code, the maximum contribution allowed, and any accrued earnings on such portion, are not exempt;

(10) the interest of an alternate payee in a plan described in paragraph (9) of this subsection;

(11) the debtor's right to receive property that is traceable to:

(A) an award under a crime victim's reparation law;

(B) a payment on account of the wrongful death of an individual of whom the debtor was a dependent, to the extent reasonably necessary for the support of the debtor and any dependent of the debtor;

(C) a payment under a life insurance contract that insured the life of an individual of whom the debtor was a dependent on the date of the individual's death, to the extent reasonably necessary for the support of the debtor and any dependent of the debtor;

(D) a payment, including pain and suffering or compensation for actual pecuniary loss, of the debtor or an individual of whom the debtor is a dependent; or

(E) a payment in compensation of loss of future earnings of the debtor or an individual of whom the debtor is or was a dependent, to the extent reasonably necessary for the support of the debtor and any dependent of the debtor;

(12) provisions for 3 months support, whether provided or growing;

(13) the library, office furniture, and implements of a professional person or artist, not exceeding $ 300 in value; and

(14) the debtor's aggregate interest in real property used as the residence of the debtor, or property that the debtor or a dependent of the debtor in a cooperative that owns property that the debtor or a dependent of the debtor uses as a residence, or in a burial plot for the debtor or dependent of the debtor.

(b) The exemptions provided for by subsection (a) of this section are valid when the property is in transit, the same as if at rest; but property named and exempted in this section is not exempt from attachment or execution for a debt due for the wages of servants, common laborers, or clerks, except the wearing apparel, beds, and bedding and household furniture for the debtor and family.

(c) For the purpose of this section, the person who is the principal provider for the family is the head thereof.

§ 16-572. Attachment of wages; percentage limitations; priority of attachments

Notwithstanding any other provision of subchapter II of this chapter, where an attachment is levied upon wages due a judgment debtor from an employer-garnishee, the attachment shall become a lien and a continuing levy upon the gross wages due or to become due to the judgment debtor for the amount specified in the attachment to the extent of:

(1) 25 per centum of his disposable wages that week, or

(2) the amount by which his disposable wages for that week exceed thirty times the federal minimum hourly wage prescribed by section 6(a)(1) of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (29 U.S.C.S. 206) in effect at the time the wages are payable,

whichever is less. In the case of wages for any pay period other than a week, the Mayor of the District of Columbia shall by regulation prescribe a multiple of the federal minimum hourly wage equivalent in effect to that set forth in paragraph (2).

The levy shall be a continuing levy until the judgment, interest, and costs thereof are fully satisfied and paid, and in no event may moneys be withheld, by the employer-garnishee from the judgment debtor, in amounts greater than those prescribed by this section. Only one attachment upon the wages of a judgment debtor may be satisfied at one time. Where more than one attachment is issued upon the wages of the same judgment debtor and served upon the same employer-garnishee, the attachment first delivered to the marshal shall have priority, and all subsequent attachments shall be satisfied in the order of priority set forth in section 16-507.

§ 42-1904.09. Escrow of deposits; to bear interest; not subject to attachment

Any deposit made in regard to any disposition of a unit, including a nonbinding reservation agreement, shall be held in escrow until either delivered at settlement or returned to the prospective purchaser. Such escrow funds shall be deposited in a separate account for each condominium in a financial institution the accounts of which are insured by a federal or state agency. These deposits shall bear interest at the passbook rate then prevailing in the District of Columbia beginning with the first business day after the date deposited with declarant or declarant's agent. Earned interest shall be credited to the prospective purchaser's deposit. Such escrow funds shall not be subject to attachment by the creditors of either the purchaser or the declarant.

§ 24-241.06. Trust fund for earnings; disbursements

The Mayor is authorized to include in individual work release plans provisions for the collection of the wages, salary, earnings, and other income of each gainfully employed prisoner when paid, or require that the same be surrendered when received, less payroll deductions required or authorized by law, and to deposit the amount so received in a trust fund account in the Treasury of the United States. Such wages, salary, or earnings in the hands of either the employer or the Mayor during such prisoner's terms shall not be subject to garnishment or attachment. The Mayor is further authorized in individual work release plans to provide for disbursements from the trust fund account established under this section for any or all of the following purposes: (1) the payment of an amount not to exceed the lesser of 20% of the prisoner's earnings, or $ 4 per day, as the cost of his room and board; (2) necessary travel expenses to and from work or other business and incidental expenses of the prisoner; (3) support of the prisoner's dependents, if any; (4) support of minor children pursuant to court order; (5) payment of court fines or forfeitures; or (6) payment, either in full or ratably, of the prisoner's debts which have been acknowledged by him in writing or have been reduced to judgment. The balance of such earnings, if any there be after payments therefrom for the foregoing purposes, shall be paid to the prisoner upon the completion of the period during which he is subject to confinement.

§ 51-118. Protection of rights and benefits; child support obligations

(a) No agreement by any individual to waive any of his rights under this subchapter or to pay any part of the contribution payable by his employer with respect to his or any other individual's employment, shall be valid; nor shall any employer make, require, or permit any deduction from the wages payable to his employees for the purpose of paying any part of the contributions required of the employer under this subchapter, or require or attempt to induce any individual to waive any right he may acquire under this subchapter. Any employer who violates any provision of this subsection shall, for each such offense, be fined not less than $ 100 nor more than $ 1,000 or be imprisoned not more than 6 months, or both.

(b) (1) Except as hereinafter provided no assignment, pledge, or encumbrance of any right to benefits which are or may become due or payable under this subchapter shall be valid or enforceable; and the right to any such benefits shall be exempt from levy, execution, attachment, or any other remedy whatsoever provided for the collection of debt; and the benefits received by any individual so long as they are not mingled with other funds of the recipient shall be exempt from any remedy whatsoever for the collection of all debts except debts accrued for necessaries furnished to such individual, his spouse, or his dependents during the time when such individual was unemployed.

(2) An individual filing a new claim for unemployment compensation shall disclose, at the time of filing such a claim, whether the individual owes child support obligations as defined under paragraph (8) of this subsection. If any individual discloses that he or she owes child support obligations and is determined to be eligible for unemployment compensation, the Director shall notify the appropriate state or local child support enforcement agency that the individual has been determined to be eligible for unemployment compensation.

(3) The Director shall deduct and withhold from any unemployment compensation payable to an individual that owes child support obligations as defined under paragraph (8) of this subsection the following:

(A) The amount specified by the individual to the Director to be deducted and withheld under this subsection if neither subparagraph (B) nor (C) of this paragraph is applicable;

(B) The amount (if any) determined pursuant to an agreement submitted to the Director under § 454(19)(B)(i) of the Social Security Act by the appropriate state or local child support enforcement agency, unless subparagraph (C) of this paragraph is applicable; or

(C) Any amount otherwise required to be so deducted and withheld from the unemployment compensation pursuant to legal process as that term is defined in § 462(e) of the Social Security Act.

(4) Any amount deducted and withheld under paragraph (2) of this subsection shall be paid by the Director to the appropriate state or local child support enforcement agency.

(5) Any amount deducted and withheld under paragraph (2) of this subsection shall be treated for all purposes as if it were paid to the individual as unemployment compensation and paid by such an individual to the state or local child enforcement agency in satisfaction of the individual's child support obligations.

(6) For purposes of paragraphs (2) through (5) of this subsection, the term "unemployment compensation" means any compensation payable under the state law (including amounts payable by the District pursuant to an agreement under any federal law providing for compensation, assistance, or allowances with respect to unemployment).

(7) Deductions shall be made pursuant to this subsection only if appropriate arrangements have been made for reimbursement by the state or local child enforcement agency for the administrative costs incurred by the Director under this subsection which are attributable to child support obligations being enforced by the state or local child support enforcement agency.

(8) The term "child support obligations" is defined for purposes of these provisions as including only obligations which are being enforced pursuant to a plan described in § 454 of the Social Security Act which has been approved by the Secretary of Health and Human Services under part D of title IV of the Social Security Act.

(9) The term "state or local child enforcement agency" as used in these provisions means any agency of a state or political subdivision thereof operating pursuant to a plan described in paragraph (8) of this subsection.

(c) No individual seeking to establish a claim for benefits shall be charged any fee whatsoever by the Director or the Director's representatives, or by the court or any officer thereof. Any individual claiming benefits in any proceeding before the Director or the Director's representative or the court may be represented by counsel or other duly authorized agent; but no such counsel or agent shall either charge or receive for such services more than an amount approved by the Director. Any person who violates any provision of this subsection shall, for each such offense, be fined not more than $ 500 or imprisoned not more than 1 year, or both.

(d) (1) An individual filing a new claim for unemployment compensation benefits shall be advised at the time of filing the claim, that:

(A) Unemployment compensation is subject to federal, state, and local income taxes;

(B) Requirements exist pertaining to estimated tax payments;

(C) The individual may elect to have federal income tax deducted and withheld from the individual's payment of unemployment compensation with respect to benefits paid on or after January 1, 1997, at the amount specified in the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, approved October 22, 1986 (100 Stat. 2085; 26 U.S.C.S. § 1 et seq.);

(D) The individual may elect to have District of Columbia income tax deducted and withheld from the individual's payment of unemployment compensation at the rate of 5% with respect to weeks of benefits paid on or after January 1, 2002; and

(E) The individual shall be permitted to change a previously elected withholding status on 2 occasions during the individual's benefit year.

(2) Amounts deducted and withheld from unemployment compensation shall remain in the unemployment fund until transferred to the federal or District taxing authority as a payment of income tax.

(3) The Director shall follow all procedures specified by the United States Department of Labor, the Internal Revenue Service, and the District of Columbia taxing authority pertaining to the deducting and withholding of income tax.

(4) Amounts shall be deducted and withheld pursuant to this section only after amounts are deducted and withheld for any benefit overpayment or child support obligations required to be deducted and withheld under this subchapter.

§ 32-1517. Assignment of compensation; exemption from claims of creditors

No assignment, release, or commutation of compensation or benefits due or payable under this chapter, except as provided by this chapter, shall be valid, and such compensation and benefits shall be exempt from all claims or creditors and from levy, execution, and attachment or other remedy for recovery or collection of a debt, which exemption may not be waived.

§ 29-928. Share and membership certificates -- Exemption for attachment, execution and garnishment

The holdings of any member of an association, to the extent of the minimum amount necessary for membership, but not to exceed $ 50, shall be exempt from attachment, execution, or garnishment for the debts of the owner. If any holdings in excess of this amount are subjected to such liability, the directors of the association may either admit the purchaser thereof to membership, or may purchase from him such holdings at par value.

§ 1-1206. Exemption from execution

A notary's official seal and his official documents shall be exempt from execution.

§ 31-4716.01. Exemption from legal process -- Disability benefits

No money or other benefit paid, provided, allowed, or agreed to be paid by any company on account of the disability from injury or sickness of any insured person shall be liable to execution, attachment, garnishment, or other process, or to be seized, taken, appropriated or applied by any legal or equitable process or operation of law, to pay any debt or liability of such insured person whether such debt or liability was incurred before or after the commencement of such disability, but the provisions of this section shall not affect the assignability of any such disability benefit otherwise assignable, nor shall this section apply to any money income disability benefit in an action to recover for necessaries contracted for after the commencement of disability covered by the disability clause or contract allowing such money income benefit.

§ 31-4717. Exemption from legal process -- Group life policy or proceeds

No policy of group life insurance, nor the proceeds thereof when paid to any employee or employees thereunder, shall be liable to attachment, garnishment, or other process, or to be seized, taken, appropriated, or applied by any legal or equitable process or operation of law, to pay any debt or liability of such employee, or his beneficiary, or any other person who may have a right thereunder, either before or after payment; nor shall the proceeds thereof, when not made payable to a named beneficiary, constitute a part of the estate of the employee for the payment of his debts.

§ 31-4716. Rights of parties under life policies

(a) When a policy of insurance, whether heretofore or hereafter issued, is effected by any person on his own life or on another life in favor of some person other than himself having an insurable interest therein, or, except in cases of transfer with intent to defraud creditors, if a policy of life insurance is assigned or in any way made payable to any such person, the lawful beneficiary or assignee thereof, other than the insured or the person so effecting such insurance or executors or administrators of such insured or the person so effecting such insurance, shall be entitled to its proceeds and avails against the creditors and representatives of the insured and of the person effecting such insurance whether or not the right to change the beneficiary is reserved or permitted and whether or not the policy is made payable to the person whose life is insured, if the beneficiary or assignee shall predecease such person; provided, that subject to the statute of limitations the amount of any premiums for said insurance paid with intent to defraud creditors, with interest thereon, shall inure to their benefit from the proceeds of the policy, but the company issuing the policy shall be discharged of all liability thereon by payment of its proceeds in accordance with its terms, unless before such payment the company shall have written notice by or in behalf of a creditor of a claim to recover for transfer made or premiums paid with intent to defraud creditors with specifications of the amount claimed.

(b) A charitable, benevolent, educational, governmental, or religious institution that is described in § 501(c)(3) or § 170(b)(1)(A) of the Internal Revenue Code or a trust for the benefit of the institution that is qualified as a charitable remainder trust under § 664 or a pooled income fund under § 642(c)(5) of the Internal Revenue Code may acquire an insurable interest in the life of an individual if:

(1) The institution or trust is designated irrevocably as the beneficiary of the insurance proceeds or designated as the owner of the life insurance policy, or both;

(2) The application for the insurance contract is procured and signed by the individual whose life is to be insured; and

(3) Notwithstanding paragraph (1) of this subsection, the insured pays the premiums for the insurance policy for at least 3 years following the issuance of the policy.

(c) Subsection (b) of this section does not prohibit the insured from retaining all ownership rights conferred by the insurance policy, except the right to loan or borrow value during the premium-paying period or at maturity.

§ 4-215.01. Prohibition; immunity from legal process

Public assistance awarded under this chapter shall not be transferable or assignable at law or in equity, and none of the money paid or payable to any recipient under this chapter shall be subject to execution, levy, attachment, garnishment, or other legal process, or the operation of any bankruptcy or insolvency law.

§ 38-2001.17. Funds not subject to assignment, execution or levy

None of the money mentioned in this subchapter shall be assignable, either in law or equity, or be subject to execution or levy by attachment, garnishment, or other legal process.

§ 16-2703. Distribution of damages

The damages recovered in an action pursuant to this chapter, except the amount specified by the verdict or judgment covering the reasonable expenses of last illness and burial, may not be appropriated to the payment of the debts or liabilities of the deceased person, but inure to the benefit of his or her family and shall be distributed to the spouse and next of kin according to the allocation made by the verdict or judgment, or in the absence of an allocation, according to the provisions of the statute of distribution in force in the District.

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