Provide Financial Relief to Washington Families Now

During the COVID-19 pandemic, increasing numbers of Washington families rely on personal property exemptions to protect necessities from creditors. Yet, outdated laws put this option out of reach for many at the time they need it the most. SB 5173/HB 1400, also known as The Fair Shot Act addresses that problem.

Our Solution: The Fair Shot Act
Personal property exemptions protect working families.

When facing garnishment, personal property exemptions help people keep money in their bank accounts, keep their vehicles, and keep other necessities.

When filing for bankruptcy, a debtor can protect the equity in their personal property up to a certain limit. If the value of the property is less than the limit, the bankruptcy trustee cannot seize and sell the property. Exemptions also protect small business owners struggling to stay afloat in the face of COVID-19 shutdowns.

Our personal property exemptions have not kept up with the increased cost of living in our state, and the steep inflation we are currently facing has revealed just how deficient they are.

- Christina Henry

What does the Fair Shot Act do?

If passed, the Fair Shot Act will help ensure that:

  • People keep enough money in their bank account to cover rent and necessities
  • Working families keep their cars
  • Couples (married or not) have individual security of their belongings.
  • Small business owners keep the tools they need to run their business
  • Injured persons protect their compensation for pain and suffering
Families will see real pandemic relief at no cost to the state.

The Fair Shot Act provides real, tangible relief to vulnerable working people without costing taxpayers a cent.

The Fair Shot Act is supported by:
  • Columbia Legal Services
  • Statewide Poverty Action Network
  • Washington State Association for Justice
  • National Consumer Law Center
  • National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys
  • Washington State National Organization for Women
Why This Matters
Washington's current exemption laws are too low.

Personal property exemptions protect necessities like money in a bank account and a vehicle when people face financial hardship. Currently, the National Consumer Law Center, gives our state a "C" grade for protecting the personal property of working families.

Our state's failure to act on this has had devastating impact on people across Washington. Here are some of their stories.

Emilie's Story

Emilie suffered serious injuries after being hit by a drunk driver in 2015, unable to work she was faced with tragedy after, months later her wife was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer, and they both were forced to take out predatory loans. After years of battling, Emilie's wife tragically passed away, leaving Emilie in pain and financial distress hounded by debt collected and left with tens of thousands of dollars in debt. She was never compensated for her accident.

Better exemption laws would have prevented Emilie's financial ruin by protecting her from predatory loans while she was suffering from tragic events

Aimee's Story

Washington's current exemption levels fail to keep individuals out of poverty. Aimee (above) was unable to work due to an unforeseen medical condition and was left with minimal state assistance after a horrific car accident. Aimee had no choice but to go into debt to cover her basic needs while she was recovering from her accident.

Without stronger exemptions, people like Aimee will be forced to turn over personal injury settlements — money needed to pay for medical expenses, lost wages, and other necessities — to out of state debt buyers.

Nadia's Story

Washington exemptions must protect working families. Families like Nadia's (above) are all over Washington. Her story shares the concerns of the thousands who worked in industries like hospitality which were shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Increased personal property exemptions can help families like Nadia recover quicker after financial hardship.

Mark's Story

Small businesses are at risk when faced with unexpected circumstances. Mark and his wife (above) owned a successful spa and facial clinic. When Covid hit, they were forced to shut down their business after 7 years and hundreds of thousands of dollars invested.

Because of the current low exemption laws, they are unable to save for in cases of accidents and job loss, which would lead them unable to pay their bills. Exemption laws must reflect on the current cost of living to ensure that residents will be protected while facing struggles.

Make a Contribution

Your donation will support NWCLC's efforts to pass The Fair Shot Act.

Have questions?

Get in touch with our staff.