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California state law

Exempt from garnishment:

Federal law applies.


– Legal: 10%
– Judgment: 10% or contract rate.


– Open Account (credit card): 4 years (2 yeas if not in writing)
– Written Contract: 4 years
– Domestic Judgment: 10 years (can be renewed at 10 years)
– Foreign Judgment: 10 years


– Amount owed plus treble (3 times) damages [minimum $100 and maximum $1500]

tape recording

Two party state


(California Code of Civil Procedure)

– You cannot use the federal exemptions, but you can use the federal non–bankruptcy exemptions.
– California is the only state with two options (pick the one that allows you to keep the most property)


Real estate:

Real property: Mobile home, co–op, or condo to $50,000 if single and not disabled
– $75,000 for families if no other member has a homestead
– Up to $125,000 if 65 or older or disabled or $100,000 if 55 or older, single and earn under $15,000 and creditors trying to force the sale of your home
– Or you are 55 or older, married, earning less than $20,000 and creditors trying to force the sale of your home;
– Proceeds from sale of home are exempt for six months [704.710, 704.720 and 704.730]

Personal property:

– Furnishings, clothing, appliances and food (amount needed) [704.020]
– Bank deposits from social security to $2,000 ($3,000 if married) [704.080]
– Building materials for home improvement up to $2,000 [704.030]
– Jewelry, heirlooms and art up to $5,000 total [704.040]
– Motor vehicles or auto insurance proceeds on vehicle to $1,900 [704.010]
– Personal injury claims or recoveries, amount needed for support [704.140]
– Wrongful death causes of action or recovery, amount needed for support [704.140]
– Books, equipment, furnishings, materials, motor vehicle (if not claimed otherwise), tools, uniforms, and vessel up to $5,000 total (married couples may double to $10,000) [704.060]

Insurance / Annuities:

– Disability or health benefits, unlimited amount [704.130]
– Life insurance proceeds if policy prohibits proceeds from being used to pay creditors, unlimited amount [Insurance 1017]
– Fidelity bonds, unlimited amount [Labor 404]
– Matured life insurance benefits, amount needed for support [704.100(c)
– Fraternal unemployment benefits, unlimited amount [704.120]
– Homeowner's insurance proceeds up to six months after receipt and up to real estate exemption amount [704.720(b)]
– Unmatured life insurance policy loan value up to $8,000 if single, married couples can double [704.100(b)]

Pensions / Retirement Plans:

– Public and Private retirement benefits, IRAs & Keoghs, unlimited amount [704.110, 704.115]
– Public employees, public retirement benefits [Government 21201]
– County employees, firefighters, police officers, unlimited amount [Government 31452, 31913 and 32210]

Public Benefits / Entitlements:

– Union benefits due to labor dispute, unlimited amount [704.120(b)(5)]
– Workers' compensation, unlimited amount [704.160]
– Aid to blind, aged, disabled, and families with dependent children, unlimited amount [704.170]
– Financial aid to students, unlimited amount [704.180]
– Unemployment benefits, unlimited amount [704.120]
– Relocation benefits, unlimited amount [704.180]


– Public employees vacation credits, unlimited amount [704.1113]
– 75% of paid wages within 30 days of filing bankruptcy [704.070]


– Business or professional licenses, except liquor licenses, unlimited amount [695.060 and 708.630]
– Inmates' trust funds up to $1,000 [704.090]
– Bbusiness partnership property, unlimited amount [Corporations 15025]



Option 2 – FEDERAL exemptions:

Real Estate:

– Real property, co–op and/or burial plot of debtor or a dependent to $15,000; unused exemption may be applied to any property [703.140(b)(1)]

Personal property:

– Animals, crops, appliances, furnishings, household goods, books, musical instruments and clothing up to $400 per item [703.140(b)(3)]
– Implements, books and tools of trade up to $1,500 [703.140(b)(6)]
– Health aids, unlimited amount [703.140(b)(9)]
– Jewelry to $1,000 total [703.140(b)(4)]
– Motor vehicle to $2,400 [703.140(b)(2)
– Personal injury recoveries to $15,000 (not pain or suffering or pecuniary loss) [703.140(b)(11)(D) and (E)
– Wrongful death recoveries, amount needed for support [703.140(b)(11)(B)]
– Burial plot up to $15,000 in lieu of real estate exemption [703.140(b)(1)]

Insurance / Annuities:

– Disability benefits, unlimited amount [703.140(b)(10)(C)]
– Fidelity bonds; life insurance proceeds, amount needed for support [703.140(b)(11)(C)
– Unmatured life insurance policy with dividends or loan value up to $8,000 [703.140(b)(8)]
– Unmatured life insurance policy [703.140(b)(7)]

Pensions / Retirement Plans:

– Retirement benefits, amount needed for support [703.140(b)(10)(E)]

Public Benefits / Entitlements:

– Unemployment compensation, unlimited amount [703.140(b)(10)(A)]
– Veterans' benefits, unlimited amount [703.140(b)(10)(B)]
– Crime victims' compensation, unlimited amount [703.140(b)(11)(A)]
– Public assistance, unlimited amount [703.140(b)(10)(A)]
– Social security, unlimited amount [703.140(b)(10)(A)]


– None


– Any property up to $800 [703.140(b)(5)]; alimony and child support, amount needed for support [703.140(b)(10)(D)]
– Unused portion of real estate or burial exemption (can be used with any property) [703.140(b)(5)]


CALIFORNIA is a community property state