One of the biggest complaints I hear in the collection field, is that most attorneys focus primarily in obtaining a judgment while the focus for their creditor clients is collecting the money owed by their debtor.
There is no question that this is a true statement and that the creditors are absolutely correct. The attorneys that believe this are dead wrong because a judgment and fifty cents will buy you a cup of coffee and thats about it!
The problem with most “collection” attorneys is two-fold. First, they get so caught up in playing the legal game of who can prepare the longest brief or who can serve the other side with the most motions, that they completely lose sight of the fact that the whole purpose of filing the lawsuit was to get back for the client the money due them and not to be branded super-attorney.
Secondly, most attorneys don’t have a clue as to how to collect on a judgment and are not familiar with the various forms of judgment execution available to a creditor. At Spiwak & Iezza, LLP we believe that the real work doesn’t even begin until after judgment.
The good news for creditors, is that the courts, and the sheriff’s/marshal’s offices are on your side and have wonderful and highly effective tools available to help you collect your judgment.
Below is a brief introduction to some of the more effective forms of judgment execution available to you.
BANK LEVY The bank levy is one of the best judgment execution tools because it is cheap, fast and quick to wipe that smirk off the judgment debtor’s face.
For a bank levy, all you need is $21.00, the name and address of the debtor’s bank and instructions to the sheriff/marshal to serve the bank with the levy.
Within three weeks, the debtor’s bank will pull all of the money out of the debtor’s bank account, give it to the sheriff/marshal who will in turn give it to you.
THE KEEPER If your judgment debtor is a business, you can install a uniformed sheriff deputy into the business to not only stand by the cash register and intercept all monies, but to also take an inventory of the premises and pull that inventory and store it for sale.
Once the sheriff deputy asks your debtor to “step aside”, you will probably get a telephone call from the debtor asking you who to make the settlement check payable to.
The keeper ranges in cost from $170.00 for an 8 hour installation, all the way to $800.00 for a 48 hour installation. However, these monies are recoverable.
WAGE GARNISHMENT If you know where your judgment debtor is employed, and if he/she is receiving a paycheck, then for $21.00, you can have the sheriff/marshall serve a wage garnishment order on the employer to turn over 25% of each paycheck to you.
This is especially gratifying when your judgment debtor is in a high profile job or is up for a promotion. The embarrassment factor is priceless.
THIRD PARTY LEVY This is where you instruct the sheriff/marshall to serve an order on a third party to turn over any and all monies being held by that third party owed to the judgment debtor. Examples of this include monies owed as commissions to a real estate agent or monies owed by tenants to a landlord.
This type of levy is great since it is directed at a third party, the judgment debtor cannot interfere plus it only costs $21.00. However, this type of levy is difficult in that you must know who owes your judgment debtor money and when the money is due to be paid over.
REAL ESTATE LEVY If your debtor owns real property, and if there is equity in the property, then you can foreclose on that property.
The great thing about this is that a judgment debtor will usually not allow his/her house to go into foreclosure and will therefore pay the judgment voluntarily. However, if this does not occur, the real estate levy is expensive and will usually take over five months to accomplish.
CAR LEVY If your judgment debtor owns a car, boat or recreational vehicle that he/she has equity in, for approximately $700.00 you can arrange for the sheriff to go out and pick up that vehicle and sell it at auction and give you the proceeds of the sale.
I love the look on that smug judgment debtor’s face when he/she leaves his/her house in the morning to get into the Mercedes, and its not there. The expression changes quickly.
The above described forms of judgment execution are just a sampling of the tools available to you. The bottom line is that once you’ve gotten that judgment the fight has just begun and as the creditor, you are the favored party. Go for it!