“[A]ny property” means just that – any property – as for the California wildcard exemption up to the statutory amount. So said the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Orange County’s Credit Union v. Angie M. Garcia, (In Re Garcia).
The Court held that a motor vehicle, even a Mercedes, may fall within California’s so called “wildcard” or “grubstake” exemption. The Court also held that if an exempt vehicle is a tool of the debtor’s trade (the debtor here was a real estate agent) and is secured by a nonpossesory, nonpurchase-money lien, the debtor can avoid the lien pursuant to 11 USC section 522(f)(1)(B).
Lien avoidance on motor vehicles as tools of the debtor’s trade is generally allowed in situations where the vehicle is necessary to the debtor’s trade, and the state has opted out of the federal laundry list (as in California).
Is a car a tool of the trade for a bankruptcy attorney who has cases pending in Bankruptcy Courts from San Diego to Santa Barbara? Where do you draw the line on motor vehicles as tools of the trade?