If you owe a debt and that you are unable to pay, your creditor may file suit and obtain a judgment against you and, with the aide of a sheriff or constable, may try to seize your personal property to satisfy the debt. However, under Texas law, certain personal property you own can be exempt from your creditor’s efforts to collect the judgment by seizing your property. The personal property exemption is contained in Chapter 42 of the Texas Property Code.
Section 42.001(a) of the Texas Property Code provides that the personal property described in Section 42.002 of the Texas Property Code, is exempt from garnishment, attachment, execution, or other seizure if: the property is provided for a family and has an aggregate fair market value of not more than $60,000, exclusive of the amount of any liens, security interests, or other charges encumbering the property; or the property is owned by a single adult, who is not a member of a family, and has an aggregate fair market value of not more than $30,000, exclusive of the amount of any liens, security interests, or other charges encumbering the property.
However, the following personal property is exempt from seizure and is not included in the aggregate monetary limitations set forth in Section 42.001(a): (i) current wages for personal services, except for the enforcement of court-ordered child support payments; (ii) professionally prescribed health aids of a debtor or a dependent of a debtor; (iii) alimony, support, or separate maintenance received or to be received by the debtor for the support of the debtor or a dependent of the debtor; and (iv) a religious bible or other book containing sacred writings of a religion.
Section 42.002 of the Texas Property Code contains the following list of personal property that is exempt from garnishment, attachment, execution, or other seizure:
(1) home furnishings, including family heirlooms;
(2) provisions for consumption;
(3) farming or ranching vehicles and implements;
(4) tools, equipment, books, and apparatus, including boats and motor vehicles used in a trade or profession;
(5) wearing apparel;
(6) jewelry not to exceed 25 percent of the aggregate monetary limitations set forth in Section 42.001(a);
(7) two firearms;
(8) athletic and sporting equipment, including bicycles;
(9) a two-wheeled, three-wheeled, or four-wheeled motor vehicle for each member of a family or single adult who holds a driver’s license or who does not hold a driver’s license but who relies on another person to operate the vehicle for the benefit of the nonlicensed person;
(10) the following animals and forage on hand for their consumption: two horses, mules, or donkeys and a saddle, blanket, and bridle for each; 12 head of cattle; 60 head of other types of livestock; 120 fowl; and household pets.
In addition to the exemption prescribed by Section 42.001(a), a person’s right to receive payments, whether vested or not, under any stock bonus, pension, annuity, deferred compensation, profit-sharing, or similar plan, including a retirement plan for self-employed individuals, or a simplified employee pension plan, an individual retirement account or individual retirement annuity, including an inherited individual retirement account or individual retirement annuity, or a health savings account, and under any annuity or similar contract purchased with assets distributed from that type of plan or account, is also exempt to the extent the plan, contract, annuity, or account is exempt from federal income tax, or to the extent federal income tax on the person’s interest is deferred until actual payment of benefits to the person.
If the number or type of personal property owned by a debtor exceeds the exemption allowed by Section 42.002 and the debtor can be found, the officer making a levy on the property shall ask the debtor to designate the personal property to be levied on. If the debtor cannot be found or the debtor fails to make a designation within a reasonable time after the officer’s request, the officer shall make the designation.
If the aggregate value of a debtor’s personal property exceeds the amount exempt from seizure under Section 42.001(a), the debtor may designate the portion of the property to be levied on. If, after a court’s request, the debtor fails to make a designation within a reasonable time or if for any reason a creditor contests that the property is exempt, the court shall make the designation for the debtor.
DISCLAIMER Information in this article is proved for general informational and educational purposes only and is not offered as legal advice upon which anyone may rely. The law changes. Legal counsel relating to your individual needs and circumstances is advisable before taking any action that has legal consequences. This firm does not represent any person unless and until it is retained and agrees to provide such representation in writing.