Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 34. Homestead and Other Exemptions
Chapter 3. Other Articles Exempt
9/16/2021

§ 34-28.3. Emergency relief payments exempt.

A. For the purposes of this section, "emergency relief payment" means a 2020 recovery rebate for individuals and qualifying children provided pursuant to § 2201 of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (P.L. 116-136) or any future federal payments or rebates provided directly to individuals for economic relief or stimulus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

B. All emergency relief payments paid to individuals shall be automatically exempt from the creditor process. Any financial institution, as defined by § 6.2-100, receiving such payments directly from the federal government shall exempt such payments from the creditor process if (i) the payment is marked by the federal government as an "emergency relief payment" or includes some other unique identifier that is reasonably sufficient to allow the financial institution to identify the funds as an emergency relief payment or (ii) the federal government or accountholder receiving the emergency relief payment gives notice to the financial institution of such payment. In exempting emergency relief payments on deposit from the creditor process, a financial institution shall look back two months preceding the date of receipt of service of the creditor process. The financial institution shall perform a one-time account review separately for each account in the name of an account holder who is subject to the creditor process without consideration for any other attributes of the account or the creditor process, including (a) the presence of other funds, from whatever source, that may be commingled in the account with funds from an emergency relief payment; (b) the existence of a co-owner on the account; and (c) the balance in the account, provided the balance is above zero dollars on the date of account review. After conducting the account review, a financial institution shall exempt from the creditor process the lesser of the sum of all posted emergency relief payments to an account between the close of business on the beginning date of the lookback period and the open of business on the ending date of the lookback period or the balance in an account when the account review is performed.

If the creditor process involves a court return date, such as a garnishment, and requires a continued hold on the account, including any deposits made up to the return date, then if an emergency relief payment is deposited into an account after the completion of the account review but before the creditor process or garnishment return date and the account holder notifies the financial institution that the deposit of an emergency relief payment has been made, the financial institution must review the account. If the financial institution verifies that the deposited funds are exempt under this section, then such deposited funds shall be treated as exempt from the creditor process or garnishment. This second account review shall begin within two business days of receiving the notice from the account holder and shall cover the period from the start of business on the date of the completion of the previous account review to the end of business on the date of the notification from the account holder. For any creditor process that requires a continued hold, such as a garnishment where the account hold must continue until the garnishment return date, the account holder may access exempt funds by withdrawal as permitted by the financial institution.

In its answer to the creditor process, the financial institution shall state the amount of account funds that are being held pursuant to the creditor process and the amount of account funds that were treated as exempt under this section.

A financial institution that makes a good faith effort to comply with the requirements set forth herein shall not be subject to liability or regulatory action under any state law, regulation, court or other order, or regulatory interpretation for actions concerning any emergency relief payments.

Emergency relief payments shall be exempt from the creditor process even if deposited into an account with a financial institution or other organization accepting deposits and thereby commingled with other funds.

For the purposes of this section, no such exemption shall extend to child support, spousal support, or criminal restitution orders.

C. If a financial institution does not set aside an emergency relief payment as exempt from the creditor process, then the accountholder receiving such payment must claim the exemption within the time limits prescribed by subsection B of § 34-17 and in the manner prescribed under § 8.01-512.4.

2020, Sp. Sess. I, c. 39; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 552.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of this section may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.