The third party levying, for example the sheriff, should provide you with notification and an opportunity to contest the levy.
Disclaimer of California Attorney. Laws differ from state to state. 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. Trevor E. Carson, Attorney-At-Law 2377 Gold Meadow Way, Suite 220 Gold River, CA 95670 http://www.carsonkyung.com Office (916) 241-3336
California law requires the bank to notify you that your account has been levied. This is what the self help department at the law library says:
One of the common methods used by creditors to collect on court judgments is to levy bank accounts in the debtor's name. In order to do this, the creditor will request that the court issue a Writ of Execution, which is a court order directing the sheriff of a particular county, to enforce the judgment. The creditor then takes the writ to the sheriff of the appropriate county along with instructions to levy the accounts or safe deposit boxes in the debtor's name at a particular bank. If this happens in a case in which there is a judgment against you, you will be mailed a Notice of Levy (Judicial Council Form EJ-150), along with some additional informational documents.
Upon receiving the order to levy, the bank will typically freeze the funds in the affected account, up to the amount of levy, or the Sheriff will hold onto those funds for a period of ten days before forwarding the funds or property to the creditor. This delay is to give you the opportunity to seek to stop or reduce the levy by filing a Claim of Exemption.
The court may order some or all of an account exempt if:
1) The source of the money in the account is from a source that is exempt by statute (law), such as Social Security benefits; or
2) The money in the account is required for the basic necessities of life.
Keep in mind that even if the court orders the account exempt from collection, the judgment still exists, and will continue to accrue 10% simple interest each year.
One of the forms that you should receive with your Notice of Levy is Form EJ-155, Exemption from the Enforcement of Judgments. This form lists the various asset types that may be exempt from collection. An adaptation of this document, with hyperlinks to the applicable code sections, is available on the Law Library's website at http://www.saclaw.org/pages/exemptions.aspx It is very important to read and understand the specific exemption(s) that may apply to you, because not all of these exemptions are complete (for example, employment wages are only 75% exempt), and some have limits on the amount of the exemption.
IMPORTANT: Remember, once you receive these documents you have 10 days in which to file your Claim of Exemption and Declaration with the Sheriff's department listed on the Notice of Levy.