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In New York, What Personal Property is Exempt from Creditors?

Below is a general list of what personal property (real estate is next blog post) is exempt from the reach of your creditors. These exemptions reflect public policy to provide for your reasonable living requirements regardless of the size or number of money judgment(s) entered against you.

This post is more concerned with exemptions outside of a bankruptcy context. While The Langel Firm tries to keep you out of bankruptcy, sometimes your debt is so crushing that you'll need a fresh start that bankruptcy could provide. Also, the below is not entirely exhaustive and other statutes may provide additional exemptions. You should consult an attorney if you have a question about exempt property.

Knowledge of these exemptions is immediately useable in the context of bank restraints.

Recent improvements to New York Exemption Laws

  • 90% of your income for personal services within the last 60 days is exempt;
  • Statutory exemptions based on necessity and minimum wage: $3,600.00 (NYC); $3,120.00 in Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester; $2,832.00 in all other counties in the state. These amounts are automatically protected in your bank account. These were raised based on an increase of minimum wage in 2019. 
  • $3,000.00 protected if any direct deposits from identifiable exempt sources (i.e. social security, unemployment, pension; see below) were made within last 45 days;
  • Increased protections to child support, spousal support, alimony or maintenance; and
  • Increases in exemption amounts every three years to account for inflation; and
  • An increasing portion of equity in your home is exempt.

When compared to the exemption laws of other states, New York is pretty generous in protecting judgment debtor's assets. See our prior blog (New York Gets a "B" Grade from NCLC in its New Report on State Exemption Laws).

General list of exemptions:

  • Income (unless court deems unnecessary for reasonable living requirements);
  • 90% of wages within last 60 days;
  • 90% of trust income including annuities, custodial accounts, IRA's, insurance contracts;
  • 100% of Maintenance and child support payments awarded by court;
  • Pay and bounty for members of armed forces; and
  • Security deposits for rent and utilities.

Statutory list of exemptions:

  • social security, including retirement, survivors' and disability benefits;
  • supplemental security income or child support payments;
  • veterans administration benefits;
  • public assistance;
  • workers' compensation;
  • unemployment insurance;
  • public or private pensions;
  • railroad retirement; and
  • black lung benefits.

Personal property exemptions:

  • Stoves;
  • religious texts;
  • family books;
  • domestic animals;
  • most household goods;
  • jewelry (up to $1,000);
  • tools (up to $3,000);
  • one vehicle (up to $4,000 in value; if disabled up to $10,000) unless debt is for family obligation
  • $1,000 cash if no homestead exemption claimed; trust property of which you are beneficiary (if created by someone else);
  • Medical and dental accessions;
  • Animals that assist with persona disability;
  • Right to accelerate life insurance policy; and
  • Certain college tuition savings trust fund monies.

If you're suffering a bank restraint, call us to ascertain what your rights are. For now, here's an outline of how you may proceed under New York Law.