Judgment collection hinges upon locating debtor assets. Most debtors have assets. The debtors that allow a judgment to be taken against them likely either: 1) do not have the money to pay for an attorney to defend the suit or to pay the debt, 2) simply ignore the lawsuit and judgment and hope that you will go away, or 3) are professional-grade deadbeat debtors determined not to pay.
National Judgment Recovery Center, LLC uses a four step process to identify and evaluate debtor assets:
- Identify the debtors and their known addresses and other contact data and the companies they (if the debtors are individuals)
- Identify non-exempt assets owned by the debtors
- Research the asset specific liens and involuntary liens
- Determine the most appropriate method of collection for this debtor
The first step is to evaluation the judgment and abstract of judgment to determine the debtors. In some cases, proper parties have been omitted. Several common examples are the spouse of a married debtor, or an individual whose company is not in good standing with state authorities. Regrettably, short of filing a new suit, it is difficult to remedy such defects. Only the debtor’s property can be used to collect. However, in community property states, there are tricks of the trade to get to the debtor’s interest in the community property titled in the name of the spouse.
Once the names have been listed, identify every possible address and detail for each of the debtors. Whenever possible, supplement the debtor names with information such as middle initial, middle name, year of birth, driver’s license, social security number, etc. There are a variety of free and fee-based services to research this information. Professional judgment recovery firms also have proprietary databases with sophisticated capabilities not available in the free and fee-based services.
The next step in collecting your judgment is to identify the debtor’s assets. Research both the names and addresses of each of the debtors in Google, Google street view, appraisal district website, real property deed records (we suggest www.courthousedirect.com) , secretary of state records, and other public and fee-based services.
After identifying assets, research both voluntary liens (i.e. mortgages) and involuntary liens (I.R.S liens, state liens, judgments, etc). Compare the value of the asset to the amount of debts. Is there enough equity? Should you ask a sheriff to sell the property? If there is business personal property, does it really exist? I.e., is the business still operating?
The last step is to develop a plan of action to motivate the debtor to pay you. Make the pain to the debtor of not paying greater than the pain of paying. Writs of execution to require a constable to sell their property are often effective in helping a debtor “find” resources to pay you.
In summary, the steps are to: 1) identify the debtors, 2) research their assets, 3) research debt related to the assets and 4) develop a plan of action to motivate the debtor to pay you.