If a debtor receives a Citation to Discover Assets or some other notice that tells them to come to court about a judgment they owe, they can protect certain money and property from being taken by the creditor. This protection is called an exemption.
An exemption covering 85% of the debtor's wages is automatic. But the other exemptions are not automatic. Instead, the defendant must claim the exemption in court. To request an exemption, the debtor has to come to court and tell the judge what exemptions he or she is claiming.
Here are some of the exemptions a debtor can claim:
- $4,000 of value in personal property of the debtor's choice, including money in a bank account (that's why this is called the "wildcard" exemption because it can cover so many things)
- $2,400 of value in one motor vehicle
- $1,500 of value in professional books or tools of the debtor's trade
- $15,000 of value in a house or condominium in which the debtor lives or in farmland ($30,000 if a couple jointly owns it)
- Money in a pension plan or IRA
If you need to get access to your bank account for emergency purpose, you can file an Emergency Motion to Claim Exemption. An emergency purpose can be paying for basic necessities like food, rent, utilities, etc. Visit this page to find the forms that are used to file the motion.
Updated: July 2017