On April 7, 2011, new Massachusetts laws which expand personal property exemptions go into effect. The new laws redefine the money and personal property a creditor cannot reach to satisfy a debt. The most significant new personal property exemptions are as follows:
- a car up to $7,500 in value; up to $15,000 value for elderly or disabled
- wages equal to 85% of the debtor's gross wages or 50 times the hourly minimum wage per week, whichever is greater
- household furniture up to $15,000 value
- a computer and a TV (no dollar limitation on either one)
- cash of $2,500 plus certain wages plus money paid as public assistance
- "wild card" exemption of $1,000-$6,000 basd on certain unused exemptions.
Special protections are added for people age 60 or older and for people who are handicapped (defined as one who has a physical or mental impairment that "substantially limits one or more major life activities or a person who receives federal or state disability benefits).
The new laws amend MGL Ch. 224 sec. 16, MGL Ch. 235 sec. 34 and MGL Ch. 246 sec. 28 and 28A.
Attached is a detailed memo written by NCLC analysing the new law and including a number of practice tips. Also attached is a chart comparing property currently exempt by MGL Ch. 235, § 34 and Ch. 246 § 28 and he property protected by S. 2557, Effective April 7, 2011