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Ask Ellen Your Own Question
Ellen, Attorney
Category: Bankruptcy Law
Satisfied Customers: 36714
Experience:  Bankruptcy Lawyer. Experienced.
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I am retired living on Social Security and a part time job.

Customer Question

I am retired living on Social Security and a part time job. My total income per year is less than $25,000. I have a 2001 Jeep that is paid off. I have other personal items in the rented home, TV, books, appliances, pictures, stereo, etc,. I have a credit card creditor who I was paying off when I had a full time job that I stopped paying when I retired. I called them and told them I could not pay anymore until I found a full time job. I have moved from Indiana to California. I know they cannot garnish SS. Can they take my personal possessions and the car that I use to work part time? Without the part time job I cannot pay the bills.
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Bankruptcy Law
Expert:  Ellen replied 7 years ago.


Thank you for your question. I am happy to assist you.

The assets that you may retain in a bankruptcy depend upon the Chapter bankruptcy you file and the state exemptions.

As an individual, there are two types of bankruptcy available. A Chapter 7 and a Chapter 13. There are distinct differences in between a Chapter 7 and a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

A Chapter 7 bankruptcy could discharge (erase) all of your unsecured debt such as credit cards, judgments and personal loans. It would be an opportunity for a fresh financial start. However, you may have to surrender assets that exceed your exemption.

A Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a repayment plan for an individual. It may require that you repay some of your unsecured credit card debt over a 3 -5 year period. However, you may retain assets that exceed your exemption.

Here are the exemptions for California:

I hope that the information which I provided was helpful to you.

Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Thanks for the answer, however it revolves around bankruptcy. I don't want to declare bankruptcy. I just want to know how to protect my assets that I need to keep my part time job, my car. That is really the only item that has any value, but is necessary to work my part time job. What if I borrowed money against it? Would that keep it secure since it has a lien on it?
Expert:  Ellen replied 7 years ago.

The California exemptions outside of bankruptcy are listed at this link:

As you can see, car is exempt up to $2,300 in equity. However, if the car is a commercial vehicle used for business purposes the exemption is $6,075.