Strategies for Successful Seizures
Given the cost of execution and the chance of being stuck with the bill, it makes sense to have a solid plan in mind before you initiate the process. First, you want to be sure that your debtor has enough assets to cover the cost of this process, and ideally, to also cover most or all of the amount owed on the judgment.
Start by gathering accurate and specific information that a court officer or deputy sheriff can use by:
- Creating a list of assets owned by your debtor.
- Double-checking your files to make sure the information on your list is accurate.
- Preparing a cover letter containing that information is for the benefit of your officer.
When you have your list, you have many factors to consider that can potentially weigh against proceeding with execution. Possible concerns include:
- How the property is owned. If the property is owned by more than one person, you may only be entitled to a portion of the value, or nothing at all.
- Tax liens and secured creditors. Prior lien holders have priority over the assets you seize, meaning they must be paid first out of the sale proceeds.
- Special rules may apply. Restrictions apply to execution against the assets of cities, townships, school districts, and states.
- Practical considerations. Avoid spending more on the process than what you’re going to get out of it, because you’ll get stuck with the bill.
You must consider liens when deciding what assets to pursue. As with garnishments, creditors with priority get paid first. The court officer or deputy sheriff may have access to a network that can confirm whether other creditors hold liens on the property you’re about to seize. Use that information when determining which assets to pursue. But, be careful – sometimes the information in those databases is inaccurate or out-of-date.
Although your officer must try to obtain a reasonable price for goods sold, an auction may nonetheless result in fire sale prices. You need a realistic understanding of how much a debtor’s assets are worth at auction.
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