Has a judgment for an unpaid debt been issued against you in Tennessee? Did you know you have the legal right to protect certain types of property from being seized or otherwise used as enforcement for a judgment? Tennessee even allows something better. A Tennessee Debt Defense Attorney from Fitzgerald & Campbell, APLC, can explain more in a confidential consultation. Here is some basic information about the property that can be seized in a judgment and Tennessee’s $10K PPE Judgement Provision.
Can a Creditor Take My Property?
Any creditor that obtains a court judgment against you for an unpaid debt may be able to seize certain pieces of your personal property if an exemption doesn’t cover it. Tennessee state law specifies some property as automatically exempt from seizure, such as your primary home (unless the unpaid debt is to the mortgage company).
This can be costly and time-consuming, so most creditors prefer a wage garnishment or bank account levy to get their money. However, they can come after your property if the issue continues without a resolution. Articles of property that are already exempt from seizure in a judgment under Tennessee law include:
· Personal photographs
· School books
· Certain healthcare aides
· Tools you use to earn a living, worth up to a certain amount
· Social Security benefits
· Veterans’ benefits
· Alimony and child support payments
Articles that could be seized include collectibles, musical instruments, some vehicles, stocks, bonds, and other items of demonstrable value.
What is a $10,000 Personal Property Exemption (PPE) in Tennessee?
Once a judgment has been entered, the judgment creditor goes to work looking for property to take. In addition to the exempted property discussed above, Tennessee allows you to protect even more. In the Volunteer State, you can identify up to $10,000 worth of property and classify it as exempt from judgment enforcement. This protection is in addition to the property the Tennessee legislature already identified as exempt. Tennessee Code Annotated §26-2-103, states:
“Personal property to the aggregate value of ten thousand dollars ($10,000) debtor’s equity interest shall be exempt from execution, seizure or attachment in the hands or possession of any person who is a bona fide citizen permanently residing in Tennessee, and such person shall be entitled to this exemption without regard to the debtor’s vocation or pursuit or to the ownership of the debtor’s abode. Such person may select for exemption the items of the owned and possessed personal property, including money and funds on deposit with a bank or other financial institution, up to the aggregate value of ten thousand dollars ($10,000) debtor’s equity interest.”
Two stipulations apply that are very important:
1. You must claim this right before enforcement.
2. Be careful not to claim property that is already exempt.
How Do I Claim the $10K PPE in Tennessee?
To claim this exemption of personal property, you must fill out, file, and serve a Protected Income and Assets form to the court clerk. On this form, you can identify any bank accounts that contain Social Security, SSI, Unemployment, Workers Comp, AFDC/Families First, Veteran’s Benefits, Alimony or Child Support, or Government pensions.
Then you can identify up to $10,000 of personal property exempt from enforcement. The Protected Income and Assets form must be filed right after the judgment is entered. Otherwise, this right could be lost. Your personal property exemption list may include such things as:
· Bank accounts
· Household goods
· Other personal items
A Personal Property Exemption (PPE) cannot include real estate. In addition, the total value of your combined PPE list cannot exceed $10,000.
If you have a judgment against you in Tennessee, it is essential that you get counsel to help make sure all your exemptions are secured and the judgment gets adequately resolved. A Tennessee Debt Defense Attorney from Fitzgerald & Campbell, APLC, can explain more in a confidential consultation. Contact us in Franklin to schedule a consult and get the help you need as soon as possible.