Collecting A Small Claims Judgment

Learn how to collect the small claims judgment you won. Find out what types of property you can (and cannot) take to satisfy the debt, some potential sources of funds, and how to get the information you need to get paid.


Overview

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.

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.

Below you will find links and instructions for the forms you will need to complete to execute your judgment. You will also find answers to frequently asked questions about judgments.

Here is a short video: How To Collect Your Small Claims Judgment. Remember that different small claims courts have different procedures, so make sure you're complying with your court's requirements. To watch the entire small claims video series, click to visit our Videos page.

The small claims video series was made possible thanks to a grant from the State Bar of Nevada's Lawyer Referral and Information Service.

 

 

 

 

 




Preparing Your Execution Forms

To execute your judgment you will need to prepare three (or maybe four) documents: (1) the Writ of Execution, (2) the Notice of Execution, (3) the Writ of Garnishment, and (4) the Instructions to the Constable or Sheriff.

1. Writ of Execution

The first form you will need to prepare is the Writ of Execution, which is a routine court order that authorizes the constable or sheriff to take certain property belonging to the judgment debtor. Most justice courts (including the Las Vegas Justice Court) 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:

WRIT OF EXECUTION  
WORD FILLABLE | PDF FILLABLEPDF NONFILLABLE  |  FORM GUIDE

After you complete the Writ of Execution, you must file it with the court. The court clerk will charge you a $25 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, you will need to make three copies to take to the constable or sheriff along with your other execution forms.
  • In all the other Clark County justice courts, you will give the original plus three copies of the writ to the court clerk to be filed. You will then take three of those copies to the constable or sheriff along with your other execution forms.

FYI! Some justice courts, including the Las Vegas Justice Court, will allow you to have only one writ outstanding at a time in a small claims case. That means you won’t be able to go after the debtor’s bank accounts and wages at the same time. You’ll have to choose which one you want to try to collect first.

2. Notice of Execution

You will also need a Notice of Execution. This document does not require you to fill out anything. Simply print it out and attach 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:

NOTICE OF EXECUTION (AFTER JUDGMENT)  
Pdf Nonfillable

3. Writ of Garnishment

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:

WRIT OF GARNISHMENT  
WORD FILLABLE | PDF NONFILLABLE  |  FORM GUIDE  

The Writ of Garnishment is not filed with the court. You will need to make two copies of the completed writ and take them to the constable or sheriff along with your other execution forms.

4. Instructions to the Constable or Sheriff

Lastly, 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.

INSTRUCTIONS TO THE CONSTABLE (EXECUTION)  
WORD FILLABLE | PDF NONFILLABLE  

INSTRUCTIONS TO THE SHERIFF (EXECUTION)  
WORD FILLABLE | PDF NONFILLABLE  

These instructions do not get filed with the court. You will need 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:

  • $30.00 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); and
  • $5.00 check to the employer or bank, made payable to the employer or bank.

For location and contact information for the constable nearest you and the sheriff’s civil division, click to visit Constables & Sheriffs


Q&A – Collecting Your Judgment


Is there anyone else who can collect the judgment for me?

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.

How long do I have to collect my judgment?

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:

DECLARATION FOR RENEWAL OF JUDGMENT  
PDF FILLABLE | PDF NONFILLABLE  

Click to visit Basics of Court Forms and Filing for information about how to fill out legal forms and file with the court, or click to visit Justice Courts for links and contact information for your court. For more information about small claims and electronic filing in the Las Vegas Justice Court, click to visit the Las Vegas Justice Court website.

How long is the Writ of Execution in force?

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 attaching the contents of a cash drawer or bank account, the execution is a one-time action, and must be re-filed until the judgment is paid in full or satisfied.

What kinds of property can I collect and how do I collect them?

  • Garnishment. You may be able to get a court order called a Writ of Garnishment to obtain a portion of the defendant’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.
  • Attachment. If garnishment is unavailable, you may seek to obtain some of defendant’s property. It 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 the business 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 them a check. Get a copy of the cancelled check. The debtor’s bank and bank account number should be on the back!

  • Record a lien. If the defendant owns a home or other real estate, you can record your judgment as a lien against the property. To do so, you must first submit an Abstract of Judgment form to the court. A certified copy of the Abstract of Judgment 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.

A form Abstract of Judgment is available at the Self-Help Center, or you can download it on your computer by clicking one of the formats underneath the form’s title below:

ABSTRACT OF JUDGMENT  
PDF FILLABLE | PDF NONFILLABLE  

Click to visit Basics of Court Forms and Filing for information about how to fill out legal forms and file with the court, or click to visit Justice Courts for links and contact information for your court.

Are there any bonds or recovery funds I can try to collect from?

Occasionally there may be a bond or recover fund from which you can collect your judgment.

  • Manufactured housing. Consumers victimized by dealers, servicemen, installers, and manufactures and other persons licensed by the Division of Manufactured Housing may collect from a recover 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 recover 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.
  • Real estate agents and brokers. If your judgment is against a licensed real estate agent or broker for fraud, misrepresentation, or deceit, and you do not get paid from the agent or broker, you can recover from the Nevada Real Estate Education, Research and Recovery Fund.

Are there types of property I can’t collect to satisfy the debt?

There are rules about what a judgment creditor can and cannot take from a judgment debtor. Property that cannot be taken is called “exempt.” Some examples of exempt property include:

  • 75% of a judgment debtor’s wages (or 50 times the federal minimum wage, whichever is greater)
  • Judgment debtor’s primary residence, not to exceed $550,000 equity
  • Necessary household goods not to exceed $12,000
  • $2,000 in a bank account if the money comes from electronic government payments of exempt income
  • $400 of non-exempt income in a bank account
  • One vehicle with equity not to exceed $15,000
  • Certain types of benefits such as Social Security, veterans’ benefits, unemployment, public benefits, and child support.

For a more complete list, read the Notice of Execution form discussed above.

If exempt property has been taken from a judgment debtor, he has ten business days to file a claim of exemption and request the return of his property. The procedure for claiming exempt property is included in the Notice of Execution. If the judgment debtor files a claim of exemption, you should receive a copy in the mail. If you dispute the claimed exemptions, you have five days to file a request for a hearing with the court, at which the validity of the exemptions will be resolved. Click to visit Contesting Collection of a Small Claims Judgment for forms and information.

How can I find the information about the debtor that I need to collect my judgment?

If you have tried to locate the judgment debtor’s assets and have been unsuccessful, you can ask the court for an order requiring the judgment debtor to appear in court and answer questions under oath about his finances and property. This is called a “judgment debtor exam.”

To request a judgment debtor exam, you must file a Motion for Examination of Judgment Debtor and a proposed order for the judge to sign. With the proposed order, you can include a list of documents you want the debtor to bring, such as bank account statements, tax returns, paystubs, vehicle titles, and real property records. Once the judge has granted your request, you must arrange to have the judgment debtor served with the order setting the examination. You must file proof of service with the court before the date set for the examination.

A form Motion for Judgment Debtor Exam (with related documents), is available, free of charge, at the Self-Help Center. You can also download the forms on your computer by clicking one of the formats underneath the form’s title below:

MOTION FOR EXAMINATION OF JUDGMENT DEBTOR  
PDF FILLABLE | PDF NONFILLABLE  |  FORM GUIDE  

Before the examination, you should prepare a list of questions about the judgment debtor’s assets. You can download a list of sample questions by clicking the reference below:

SAMPLE QUESTIONS FOR JUDGMENT DEBTOR EXAM  
REFERENCE

TIP! The sample questions do not get filed with the court. You should take them with you to the examination. If you want the debtor to bring documents to the examination, you must attach a list of documents to the proposed order when you submit it for the judge’s signature. Keep in mind that you can’t require the debtor to create a document (for example, a list of all his property), but you can require him to bring a document that already exists (like a bank statement or a paycheck stub).

Is there anything I need to do once the judgment is paid off?

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. There are a couple of reasons why this is important. First, Nevada law requires that you notify the court that the judgment has been paid in full. (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. Both forms are available, free of charge, at the Self-Help Center, or you can download the forms on your computer by clicking on one of the formats underneath the form’s title below:

SATISFACTION OF JUDGMENT  (FOR ALL JURISDICTIONS)
PDF FILLABLE | PDF NONFILLABLE  

LAS VEGAS MOTION FOR SATISFACTION OF JUDGMENT
PDF FILLABLE | PDF NONFILLABLE

MOTION FOR SATISFACTION OF JUDGMENT
  (ALL OTHER JURISDICTIONS BESIDES LAS VEGAS)
PDF NONFILLABLE 

Click to visit Basics of Court Forms and Filing for information about how to fill out legal forms and file with the court, or click to visit Justice Courts for links and contact information for your court.