tools of the trade

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Tools of the trade are items that a person needs to pursue their occupation. These are instruments, tools, equipment, devices, and machinery as would be usually used in the normal course and scope of a person's profession, trade, or occupation without the use of additional labour. For example, an electrician would have pliers, electrical tape, etc. 

Tools of trade are exempt property - that is, they may not be seized by creditors or by the trustee in a bankruptcy case - either entirely or up to a certain dollar amount.

[Last updated in October of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]