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Can collection agencies (or law firm - debt collector) garnish my 401k or Roth IRA? and my husband's if debt is just my own?

Los Angeles, CA |

just wondering if debt collector can reach even into the retirement plan. I know that they can garnish wages but i wasn't sure on this one. please help!

also, can they reach into saving accounts? CD's? and any other investment? if they're not joint account and if it's just my husband's?

Attorney Answers 3

Posted

A levy on a judgment does not permit seizing exempt assets, such as your 401k, IRA, or other retirement programs, but it can seize funds sitting in regular checking or savings. If those funds are from Social Security or other exempt source, then seizure may be limited or prohibited. See the list of exempt funds in the link below.

If you are named in a lawsuit, then you must respond to it, preferably with a collection defense attorney. If you fail to timely respond, then a default judgment may be entered, then they can try to seize your non-exempt funds, even if you disagree that this was your debt. Please see my blog on this, below, regarding mistaken identity, which is a similar dispute (not my debt).

I also have a legal guide on Avvo regarding wage garnishments and the claim of exemption, in the link below.

Robert Stempler (please see DISCLAIMER below)
www.StopCollectionLawsuits.com

NOTICE: If you do not have a signed attorney-client fee agreement with the Consumer Law Office of Robert Stempler, APLC ("the Firm"), then until such written fee agreement is provided and signed by both client and attorney for a particular case, neither Mr. Stempler nor the Firm will represent you nor will they be your attorney in any matter and you remain responsible for any and all deadlines and for any statutes of limitations that may pertain to potential claims. Nevertheless, communications with Mr. Stempler by a prospective client remain confidential and are considered privileged.

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Posted

The 401k or IRA is protected but a judgment holder can sieze all of the other investments you listed.

Disclaimer: This answer does not constitute legal advice. I am admitted in the States of New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts only and make no attempt to opine on matters of law that are not relevant to those three States. This advice is based on general principles of law that may or may not relate to your specific situation. Facts and laws change and these possible changes will affect the advice provided here. Consult an attorney in your locale before you act on any of this advice. You should not rely on this advice alone and nothing in these communications creates an attorney client relationship.

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Asker

Posted

thank you, but can they seize my husband's account as well? say for example, if he had a CD account just under his name and SSN, and not as a joint account?

Posted

Creditors can reach into any and all assets - checking accounts, savings accounts, CDs, stocks, bonds, etc. However, there are exemptions for retirement account - they are not absolutely exempt but generally exempt. Case law shows that the exemption is allowed so long as the retirement funds are needed for retirement purposes and you are not independently wealthy or have other sources of income upon retirement.

Disclaimer of California Attorney
Although the above response is believed to be accurate, it should not be relied upon as any type of legal advice because the information provided is incomplete. It is intended to educate the reader and a more definite answer should be based on a consultation with a lawyer. No attorney client relation is formed with me without a written contract.

Joshua P. Friedman
jfriedman@jpfassociates.com
www.losangelescollector.com

Disclaimer of California Attorney Although the above response is believed to be accurate, it should not be relied upon as any type of legal advice because the information provided is incomplete. It is intended to educate the reader and a more definite answer should be based on a consultation with a lawyer. No attorney client relation is formed with me without a written contract. Joshua P. Friedman jfriedman@jpfassociates.com www.losangelescollector.com

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