How can you protect your wages and assets from Creditors?

Wage garnishment and bank levies are cruel forms of collections, especially when the wages seized are essential to pay for food, clothing, shelter, and other necessary items of support.  How can you protect your wages from creditors?

If your wages were sitting in your bank account waiting to pay your monthly bills when seized, you may claim an exemption of what was taken from seizure under the California Code of Civil Procedure with a choice of 703 or 704 exemptions.*

If you are holding a Notice from your employer that your wages are going to be garnished you should also have the forms to Claim an Exemption in Personal Property in your hands.  You may be able to stop the wage garnishment by completing the income and expense form and filing it with the levying officer.  You are making a claim of exemption on Personal Property.

Your wages are your personal property.  If your financial situation qualifies you to claim all of your wages exempt from collections by garnishment, the creditor is stopped from collecting while your wages are exempt, and the wage garnishment is lifted, temporarily.

When someone is ‘judgment proof’, all or most of their assets are protected from most types of collections.

Are you ‘judgment proof’?   How can you claim your wages, and other property, exempt from collections?  The Orange County Superior Court Website has a link to the forms and locations for ‘self-help’ desks.  The attachments detail the types of properties and limits of the specific exemptions.

For some, a Claim of Exemption is a better remedy, for the short term, than filing bankruptcy to stop a garnishment and discharge the debt.  To completely understand your remedies it is best to consult with an attorney knowledgeable in bankruptcy and consumer law matters.

*TIP: Each code section has subsections that specify types of property and exemption value limits.  If you own a home with at least $50,000 of equity or have a lot of private retirement funds to protect, then 704 exemptions may save more of your property from collectors.  If you rent then the 703 exemptions have a nice size ‘wildcard’ exemption to use on all types of property that would not be exempt under 704.  You must pick one or the other, you cannot pick from both lists.


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