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  • Writer's pictureFair Capital

Finding a Debtor's Assets

Despite what you may think, winning a lawsuit is not the end of the story. Collecting on your judgment – known as judgment execution – can be as much of a headache as actual litigation.

Post-Judgment Discovery

The mere fact that you have a right to be paid does not imply that your debtor will voluntarily pay you. It is your responsibility, not the court's, to ensure that you collect your judgment.

So, how do you collect a judgment?

Suppose your debtor refuses to pay you voluntarily, and you know he or she is capable of paying. In that case, you may want to begin enforcing your judgment.

First step

Discover your debtor's assets; Identifying your debtor's assets is the first step in enforcing a judgment. If you don't know anything about your debtor's property or money, you may need to consider the following:

Information subpoena.

You can serve an information subpoena on your Debtor to locate his assets. You may use the pre-printed questions on a subpoena or write your own questions. You can obtain an information subpoena from a court clerk for a small fee or find it on the internet for free. NY Information subpoena.

You should send the subpoena to your Debtor and anyone who may know anything about Debtor's assets, such as an employer or a bank where the judgment debtor has an account.

Find a Debtor's bank account.

If you can locate a check, more so if it is returned or canceled from your Debtor, use the information it contains as it will likely show the name and address of the Debtor's bank. This information will help you seize the funds to satisfy your Judgment.

UCC Filings: The Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) filings may also be a useful source of information. There is a fair chance that the debtor might be using the same bank that granted the loan amount to the defendant. The debtor is aware that there is always a better chance of obtaining a loan from a bank where they have a good banking relationship.

Identify the Debtor's vehicle.

You can check with the Department of Motor Vehicles to determine whether your Debtor owns a vehicle. If so, an enforcement officer may be able to sell the car to pay you back.

Find out if the Debtor owns any land.

Similarly, if your Debtor owns real estate, it can be sold to pay your Judgment. Ask the Court Clerk for a judgment transcript and then file it in the county where your judgment debtor owns the property. You may ask an enforcement officer to sell the property to satisfy your Judgment.

Business License.

Suppose the debt is related to a licensed business. In that case, contact the state or local licensing agency, as it may revoke, suspend, or refuse to renew the license.

Suspend the Judgment Debtor's driver's license.

Suppose the claim you filed is related to a Debtor's vehicle. In that case, the New York Department of Motor Vehicles may suspend your Debtor's driver's license and registration until the Judgment is paid.

If you can't find anything

If you can't find anything yourself, you can hire an asset search company that you pay to search for the Debtor's property. You can find them on the Internet.


Disclaimer: Any and all information is not intended to be, nor is it, legal advice. Please consult your attorney for information concerning allowable rates of interest.

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