Debt collection: assets that can not be seized.

Dear Sirs, I live on a small retirement pension in a rented apartment. I have a debt that I am not able to pay at this time and my creditor has warned me that he will take from me everything I own including my pension. Is this true? Can he actually do this?

Dear reader, thank you for your consultation.

In reference to your question and the regarding the debt collection  you should know that in accordance with the Civil Procedure Law ( Ley de Enjuiciamiento Civil, LEC) in Spain not all properties, pensions or wages can be seized or charged.

Firstly this Law (LEC) states that some assets /goods are absolutely indefeasible or unattachable such as those that have been declared non forfeitable that is those with no patrimonial value.

This Law also states that some of the goods /assets belonging to a judgement debtor (respondent in the execution of a Court Order process) that can not be seized or charged, e.g.
1.) Furniture and household utensils (that are not needless) food, fuel and other essentials.
2.) Books and any other tools needed by the debtor in order for him to be able to develop his profession, occupation etc.

In relation to your PENSION this Law provides in its Article No. 607 that the PENSION can not be seizure as long as it does not exceed the Guaranteed Minimum Wages (Salario Minimo Interprofesional or SMI) set by the Spanish authorities yearly. For this year (2011) it has been set at 641, 40 Euros per month.

If your receive a pension that is higher than the said Guaranteed Minimum Wages (SMI) then it could be gradually seized as follows:
1.) The share of your income between the said SMI amount and the double (2SMI) it would be charged up to 30%
2.) The share between 2SMI and 3SMI would be charged up to 50%.
3.) The share between 3SMI and 4SMI would be charged up to 60%.
4.) The share between 4SMI and 5SMI would be charged up to 75%.
5.) Any share exceeding 5 times the Guaranteed Minimum Wages will be charged on 90%.

These amounts could also be increased in certain cases provided by Law.

It must also be taken into consideration that these limits on pension and salary garnishments are not applicable when the debt is a consequence of the breach of a Maintenance Court Order as in that case the wages or pension could be charged regardless of the amount of the pension, as long as the debt is due to an unpaid maintenance to children, spouse, etc consequences of a divorce process, etc.

The information provided on this article is not intended to be legal advice, but merely conveys general information related to legal issues.

White & Baos
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