Hello and thank you for your question today. I am a licensed attorney and I will be the one assisting you with your question.
I have some good news for you!!
Using the California "wild card" exemption (Code
of Civil Procedure Section 703.140(b)(5)) you would be able to protect up to $23,250 of the inheritance. Also known as the "wild card exemption" provides the following exemption protection: The debtor's aggregate interest in any property up to $1175.00 in value, plus any unused amount of the homestead exemption, which is $22,075.00.
I would NOT pay off your car just yet!! Paying off your car would be considered a preferential payment and that could VOID the exemption.
Your best course of action is to file the chapter 7 bankruptcy listing the inheritance as an asset and exempting it using the wild card referenced above.
Also, I would strongly suggest that you hire an attorney to help you with the bankruptcy. It will cost you $1500-$2000 but at least you will have the peace of mind knowing that it is done right and you will not lose your inheritance.
You can find an attorney in your area by going to www.NACA.net
Please let me know if you have any other questions or if you need clarification on any part of my answer.
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