How Can I Protect My Property from Collection?

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You, the judgment debtor, may be able to protect some or all of your assets (property or money) from being taken to pay the judgment. (See California Code of Civil Procedure, Section 704.010 to 704.210) Opens new window

It may be possible to protect some “necessities of life” such as your: 

  • car (within certain price limitations), 
  • tools of the trade, and 
  • certain other personal property.

This information is itemized in a court form entitled Exemptions from the Enforcement of Judgments (Form EJ-155). Opens new window

The current dollar amounts of the exemptions are itemized in a court form entitled Current Dollar Amounts of Exemptions from Enforcement of Judgments Opens new window

Some of your assets are automatically protected, but sometimes you have to ask the court to decide whether other of your assets are exempt from collection or not.

If the judgment creditor has filed a Writ of Execution Opens new window on property that you think is exempt.

Within 10 days of receiving a copy of the Writ of Execution:

Step 1.
Get and fill out a:

  • Claim of Exemption (Form EJ-160) Opens new window

List the property you believe is exempt, using the Code and Section numbers you found on:

  •  Exemptions from the Enforcement of Judgments (Form EJ-155) Opens new window

NOTE: If the claim is made to protect property necessary for your support you need to ALSO fill out a Financial Statement (Form WG-007/EJ-165) Opens new window

Make at least 2 copies of the form(s).

Step 2
. Give the original(s) and one copy of the form(s) to the levying officer Opens new window (usually the sheriff). Keep one copy of the Claim of Exemption (and the Financial Statement, if appropriate) for your own files.

Step 3.
The levying officer (usually the sheriff) will serve Opens new window the judgment creditor with a copy of the Claim of Exemption (and Financial Statement, if appropriate) either by mail or in person.

The court will decide which assets are protected from collection, and will send its judgment to you and the judgment creditor by mail.

The judgment creditor has time to object to your Claim of Exemption: 10 days if the Claim was served in person; 15 days if it was served by mail.

The way the judgment creditor objects is by filing two forms with the court:

  • a Notice of Opposition to the Claim of Exception (Form EJ-10), and
  • a Notice of Hearing on Claim of Exemption (Form EJ-175).

The judgment creditor must serve Opens new window you with copies of these forms.

The judgment creditor must also give the levying officer Opens new window copies of these forms. The levying officer will then file your Claim of Exemption (and Financial Statement) with the court for the hearing.

The court must hold a hearing on your Claim and the judgment creditor’s Opposition within 20 days from the date the judgment creditor filed the Opposition papers with the court.

Go to the hearing prepared with any documents that prove why your money or other property should not be taken. For example, if the judgment creditor is saying that you are owner of a boat that he or she wants sold and the boat is not yours, it belongs to a friend, take documents showing the title on the boat.




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