Garnishing Wages Or Attaching Bank Accounts
Learn the seven steps you’ll follow to prepare the paperwork necessary to collect your civil judgment. Also find out about some funds you might be able to collect from and some things to watch for as the collection process goes forward.
The good news is that you won your case and the court entered a judgment against the other party. The bad news is that collecting your judgment may not be easy. The party who won and is entitled to collect the money awarded to him by the court is called the “judgment creditor.” The party who lost and owes money to the judgment creditor is called the “judgment debtor.” It is up to the judgment creditor – not the court – to collect from the judgment debtor.
FYI! The court will not collect the money for you, but you can ask a lawyer or collection agency to help you collect your judgment. Be aware, though, that you may have to pay a percentage of the judgment in fees. You may also be asked to assign the right to your judgment to the attorney or collection agency.
If a judgment debtor does not voluntarily pay the judgment, the judgment creditor can try to collect the money from the judgment debtor involuntarily. This is called “executing” the judgment.
A judgment creditor can execute upon a judgment debtor’s wages, real property, bank account, or cash box. There are a series of forms that the judgment creditor must prepare, file with the court clerk, and give to the constable or sheriff in order to execute a judgment.
To prepare the paperwork necessary to execute your judgment, follow these steps:
Step 1: Identify the funds or assets you want to collect
Step 2: Prepare the Writ of Execution
Step 3: Prepare the Notice of Execution
Step 4: Prepare the Writ of Garnishment
Step 5: Prepare the Instructions to the Constable or Sheriff
Step 6: Have your papers served and watch for a claim of exemption
Step 7: Track your collection and judgment
To see a flowchart showing how the whole judgment collection process works, click on the link below:
Before you can complete the paperwork to collect from the judgment debtor, you will need to decide what money or property of the judgment debtor’s you are going to instruct the sheriff or constable to take.
There are certain types of money and property that you will not be able to collect. Property that cannot be taken to pay a judgment is called “exempt.” Exempt property is typically income or assets related to the judgment debtor’s basic needs (like unemployment or veteran’s benefits, social security benefits, tools of a trade, clothing and household goods, and the like). To learn more about exempt property, click to visit Property a Judgment Creditor Can and Can’t Take.
If you know your judgment debtor’s money or property is exempt, it is probably not worth your time and energy to execute against them. If exempt property is taken, the judgment debtor needs only to file with the court to get the property returned. So you are better off focusing your efforts on money and property that is not legally exempt. To learn how the judgment debtor asserts his exemptions, click to visit Contesting a Garnishment or Attachment.
Here are some types of money and property you should try to identify:
You may be able to get a court order called a Writ of Garnishment to obtain a portion of the judgment debtor’s wages. In order to garnish wages, you must know the name and address of the employer of the person you have the judgment against. You cannot obtain more than 25% of the judgment debtor’s check or 50 times the minimum wage (currently $362.50 per week), whichever is higher.
- Bank accounts and cash
You may seek to obtain some of the judgment debtor’s property. If possible, it is best to attach cash. To attach money in a bank account you need to know the defendant’s bank name, address and, ideally, the account number. If you have a judgment against a business that has a cash register, you can execute against any cash on the property. You’ll need the business’ name and location.
TIP! To discover the judgment debtor’s bank account number, find someone who has written him a check. Get a copy of the cancelled check. The debtor’s bank and bank account number should be on the back!
- Real property
If the judgment debtor owns a home or other real estate, you can record your judgment as a lien against the property. To do so, you must first obtain a certified copy of the judgment from the court clerk. The certified copy can then be recorded with the Clark County Recorder’s Office at 500 Grand Central Parkway, Las Vegas, Nevada. Once recorded, the judgment becomes a lien upon all real property of the judgment debtor, not exempt from execution, in Clark County that the debtor currently owns or acquires before the lien expires. The lien continues for six years (unless the judgment is satisfied), and you can re-record the lien if you renew your judgment. When the property is sold or foreclosed upon, you may receive your money.
- Bonds or recovery funds
Occasionally there may be a bond or recover fund from which you can collect your judgment. The procedure and paperwork to collect against these sources varies, so check with the appropriate agency for instruction.
- Manufactured housing. Consumers victimized by dealers, servicemen, installers, and manufactures and other persons licensed by the Division of Manufactured Housing may collect from a recovery fund maintained by the Division under NRS 489.4971. If you are unable to collect the judgment, go back to court and ask the judge to order that the judgment be paid from the recovery fund. But you should first file a complaint with the Manufactured Housing Division.
- Vocational schools. If your judgment is against a vocational school that is closed, some schools are required to post a bond or set up a recovery fund. Students should call the State Division of Post-Secondary Education.
- Contractors. Some licensed contractors may have a bond to make a claim against. Call the Contractors Board to see if there is a bond posted.
- Car dealerships, body shops, and emission shops. These types of businesses are required to post bonds. To make a claim call the Division of Enforcement of the Department of Motor Vehicles. The division will tell you the name, address, and phone number of the bonding company, who will explain the procedures for filing a claim.
- Collection agencies, escrow companies, and money order businesses. These businesses must post bonds. For collection agencies call the State of Nevada Division of Financial Institutions.
Sometimes the judgment creditor simply has no information about the judgment debtor’s money or property. Without that information, it is impossible to execute the judgment. If that is your situation, there is a tool called a “judgment debtor exam” that you can use to try and get the information. To learn more, click to visit Getting Information About a Judgment Debtor’s Assets.
TIP! This website provides general information about collecting judgments. But judgment collection can be tricky depending on who you’re trying to collect from. If you hit a brick wall, you may want to talk to an attorney who specializes in collections. Click to visit Lawyers and Legal Help.
Once you know what money or property you intend to execute against, the first form you will need to prepare is the Writ of Execution. This is a routine court order that authorizes the constable or sheriff to take certain property belonging to the judgment debtor. Most courts require this document to be typed, not handwritten. You can download the Writ of Execution on your computer by clicking one of the formats underneath the form’s title below:
After you complete the Writ of Execution, you must file it with the court. In the justice court, the court clerk will charge a $25 filing fee. In the district court, the court clerk will charge a $10 filing fee.
- In the Las Vegas Justice Court, you must e-file one copy the Writ of Execution. When you receive the e-filed writ back from the court, signed by the clerk, make three copies to take to the constable or sheriff along with your other execution forms.
- In all the other Clark County justice courts and the district court, you will give the original plus three copies of the writ to the court clerk to be filed. Take three of those copies to the constable or sheriff along with your other execution forms.
You will also need a Notice of Execution. This document does not require you to fill out anything. Simply print it out and clip it to your Writ of Execution. When the constable or sheriff serves your execution forms, the judgment debtor will receive the notice, which outlines the judgment debtor’s rights. You can download the Notice of Execution on your computer by clicking one of the formats underneath the form’s title below:
If you are trying to collect money that is in the possession of a third party (someone other than the judgment debtor), you will need to prepare a Writ of Garnishment. For example, you would need this form if you are trying to garnish the judgment debtor’s wages or attach the judgment debtor’s bank account. But you would not need it if you are trying to take cash directly from the judgment debtor’s cash register. You can download the Writ of Garnishment on your computer by clicking one of the formats underneath the form’s title below:
The Writ of Garnishment is not filed with the court. Make two copies of the completed writ and take them to the constable or sheriff along with your other execution forms.
You will need to prepare instructions to the constable or sheriff, depending on which office you intend to use to serve your execution forms. If the court has issued an order waiving your filing fees, the sheriff will honor that order and serve your documents without charge, whereas the constable will charge you a fee. You will need to obtain a copy of the court order waiving filing fees and provide it to the sheriff with your other documents.
These instructions do not get filed with the court. Make one copy of the instructions to take to the constable or sheriff along with your other execution forms. Unless you have provided the sheriff with a court order waiving your fees, you must pay the constable or sheriff certain fees up front, which might include:
- $18.00 for a bank account or wage garnishment, plus $2.00 per mile (as determined by the constable/sheriff)
- $9.00 for car, cash box, or property lien levy, plus $2.00 per mile, and $300.00 for storage and impound fees (for vehicles)
- $5.00 check to the employer or bank, made payable to the employer or bank
Fees change and vary, so contact the sheriff or constable for fee information. For location and contact information for the constable nearest you and the sheriff’s civil division, click to visit Constables & Sheriffs.
Take all your paperwork to the constable or sheriff for service. For location and contact information for the constable nearest you and the sheriff’s civil division, click to visit Constables & Sheriffs.
After the sheriff or constable serves your paperwork, the judgment debtor has ten business days after the Notice of Execution is mailed or his wages are withheld to file with the court to claim any exemptions he believes apply. The judgment debtor will mail you a copy of his Claim of Exemption form. To learn more about this process, click to visit Contesting a Garnishment or Attachment.
You have eight business days from the service of the judgment debtor’s Claim of Exemption to file an objection with the court if you disagree with the exemptions the judgment debtor is claiming. To learn more about this process, click to visit Responding If the Judgment Debtor Contests Collection.
To see a flowchart showing an overview of this process, click on the link below:
A Writ of Execution against the judgment debtor’s wages will remain in effect for 120 days. Wages are collected each payday for 120 days, unless the judgment is paid in full. If you are attaching the contents of a cash drawer or bank account, the execution is a one-time action. You must re-file your paperwork until the judgment is paid in full or satisfied.
Once the judgment is completely paid off, you must file a Satisfaction of Judgment with the court so that the payoff is reflected in the court’s records. This is important for a couple of reasons. First, Nevada law requires that you notify the court that the judgment has been paid. (NRS 17.200.) Second, an unsatisfied judgment has a negative impact on a judgment debtor’s credit report and credit score. If you fail to file a Satisfaction of Judgment, the judgment debtor can file a motion to have the judge declare the judgment satisfied. A form Satisfaction of Judgment is available, free of charge, at the Self-Help Center, or you can download the form on your computer by clicking on one of the formats underneath the form’s title below:
Click to visit Basics of Court Forms and Filing for information about how to fill out legal forms and file with the court.
Your judgment will expire within six years from the date it is entered in your case unless it is renewed. To renew a judgment, first click to visit Nevada Statutes and review NRS 17.214 carefully. You will need to file a Declaration for Renewal of Judgment with the clerk of the court where the judgment was entered within ninety days before the date the judgment is set to expire. Any judgment liens you have placed on the judgment debtor’s property must also be renewed.
A Declaration for Renewal of Judgment is available, free of charge, at the Self-Help Center. You can also download the form on your computer by clicking on one of the formats underneath the form’s title below:
Click to visit Basics of Court Forms and Filing for information about how to fill out legal forms and file with the court.