California Judgment Creditors Consider Bank Levies and Assignment Orders to Collect Their Judgments

October 9, 2011,

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Q: I have 3 judgements valued at a total of 7K against an experienced BK Attorney. He has 3 personal BK filings in CA in the last 20 years. Will a collection company levying against his operating account get me paid? He has no RE property so see no advantage to Abstract. One attorney suggested a claim against his future client fees. Thank you,
Asked about 2 hours ago in Debt Collection

A: I assume from your post that the BK attorney is a sole proprietor and that your judgment is against him personally. Then, yes, you can levy on his general business account. First, you will need to know the name of his bank branch. When levying on bank accounts, timing is everything. Whether you get paid in full will depend on the amount of money in his account at the time the levy is served on the bank. If the account has insufficient funds to cover your full judgment and costs of collection, you will still have to try another levy or some other collection method to collect the remainder of your judgment and incurred costs. Most people immediately close bank accounts after a levy so that the creditor doesn't get a second chance to take any more money. That leaves you looking searching for his new bank account. Since the debtor is a business owner, I also recommend filing a Notice of Judgment Lien with the Secretary of State to perfect your judgment lien on his personal/business property. The cost of filing a Notice of Judgment Lien is around $20. If he owns business property worth collecting against (valuable copiers, computer equipment, office furniture, etc.), you can take steps to have the property seized and sold to satisfy your judgment. Another option is to obtain an assignment order to collect against his future fees. But, assignment orders are generally directed towards the person paying the fees. The Order tells the person paying the fees to pay you instead. You would have no way of really knowing you is about to pay him fees. An Assignment Order can also direct the debtor to pay you his incoming fees; but, if he ignores the Order (which could be likely), you will still be chasing him for payment. You may also want to consider a Debtor's Exam coupled with a Turnover Order which will require the Debtor to appear and answer questions under oath about all of his assets and, then, Turn Over to you all money on his person, in his bank accounts, etc. Is your debtor married? Does the spouse work? Was the debt incurred while the debtor was married? If so, you could garnish the spouse's wages to satisfy your judgment. There are many different strategies for collecting judgments. Each strategy will have its own pros and cons depending on each particular situation. I would need more information about your judgment debtor to offer more concrete advice.

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