Judgment Payment Agreement, Best Types of Funds

Whenever I hammer out a judgment payment agreement, there are many things that can become part of the payment arrangement.  Here I am only going to mention one of the many things that can be negotiated into the final agreement.  That one thing is the type of funds that I will expect my judgment debtor to pay with.  This is not a subject that many judgment creditors give much thought to, but it deserves to be considered a bit.  Therefore I will share a few of my own thoughts about the best types of funds to accept from my debtor in a judgment payment agreement.

There is more than one way, of course, to be paid.  It goes without saying that any of us would gladly accept plain old hard cash, US currency, green portraits of dead presidents, folding money, or whatever other name by which it is known.  Just make sure that the ink is dry when you receive it from your debtor (just kidding).  I should never accept a cash payment without providing my debtor with a receipt.

My second preference would be to require my debtor to pay by means of some type of certified funds.  A cashier’s check is really quite common.  A cashier’s check or other certified check is guaranteed by the bank or institution that certifies that the check is as good as cash.  They guarantee that they will honor the check when properly presented and endorsed.  If I require my judgment debtor to provide payment by certified funds it may cost them a small fee to have the bank issue the check or order.  If I have reason to suspect that my debtor might give me a check that might bounce, then I will require payment by certified funds.

I don’t draw any practical difference between a cashier’s check and a money order.  Both are negotiable instruments that will protect me from having to deal with a rubber check.  I am happy with either and will not quarrel with a debtor paying with them.

Both cash and certified funds will work for me 100% of the time.  There are other methods of payment that I will agree to at times.  Nevertheless, cash and certified funds are the two safest and easiest methods of payment for me to accept.

Later I’ll talk further about other payment methods that work for me.  When in doubt, it is always good to specify cash or certified funds.

Good luck working out your post judgment payment agreement and don’t forget to insist on a method of payment that is easy, and protects you the best.


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SSDI: Discover Death of Judgment Debtor

It is vitally important to know whether my judgment debtor is dead or alive.  If my debtor has died, I will have a fairly short window of time in which I can make a valid claim against the judgment debtor’s estate.  If I miss that window of opportunity, I won’t likely collect any of my judgment money.  This post is aimed at how I can access the SSDI to discover the death of my judgment debtor.

SSDI is an abbreviation or acronym for the “Social Security Death Index.”  The Social Security Administration complies a Death Master File of all persons who are reported to the Social Security Administration to have died.  It is important to understand that this list is not 100% inclusive of all deaths nor is it without some errors.  The SSDI is most reliable in maintaining accurate death listings for persons who were age 65 or older.

The Social Security Administration does not make their Death Master File records available on-line.  However, the records are made available on-line through a number of genealogy websites.  If you do a Google Search on the term “SSDI” or “Social Security Death Index” you will see various sites that make these records available to the public.

The SSDI data provides the given name, surname, and middle initial as well as the birth date of deceased persons.  It also includes at least the month and year of death and in recent years it also includes the exact date of death.  The decedent’s social security number has historically been included also.  The actual US territory or state where the Social Security number was issued in provided.  The ZIP code of the deceased’s last known residence is also a part of the record.

If my judgment debtor is found to be listed in the SSDI then I can order a copy of the debtor’s original application for a Social Security Card.  This application, known as Form SS-5 normally contains additional information including place of birth, father’s name, and mother’s full maiden name.  This information may help me locate the family members if I desire to do so.

I want this SS-5 information if I fail to successfully file a timely claim to include my judgment debt with the judgment defendant’s estate.  It is not unheard of that a deceased person’s family will want to pay off an old judgment debt of their loved one even though the judgment creditor did not file their claim against the estate in time.

When dealing with a deceased judgment debtor‘s family, it is imperative that I act with all due respect and courtesy.  I have no legal rights to demand that they pay me one dime.  If they don’t volunteer to take care of the judgment debt, I have to walk away and never press the issue with them.

Many judgment debts have been satisfied in whole or in part after the judgment debtor’s death.  Sometimes through the timely filing of a legal claim on the estate, and other times by the good intentions of the debtor’s family.

Using the SSDI is only one way to discover whether my judgment debtor has died.  There are other ways which we will discuss in later posts.

For a further look at a closely related topic you can read our previous article:  How to Collect a Judgment After the Judgment Debtor Dies.

We hope you collect all of your judgment money!


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Collecting from Multiple Judgment Debtors on the Same Judgment

It is always an advantage when you own a money judgment which was awarded against more than one party.  Collecting from multiple judgment debtors on the same judgment can open up greater possibilities to get paid.

Lets make this simple by using a fictitious example of a judgment.  We will say that Chris Creditor has won a civil judgment against Dan Deadbeat, Dan’s sister Debbie Deadbeat, and their business associate Sammy Scumbag.  According to the judge’s decree, the judgment debtors now owe $60,000 to Chris Creditor.

Chris now can do his post judgment investigation on all three judgment debtors.  He can identity and locate assets from all three of them.  In the course of his investigation he may find that Dan Deadbeat has non-exempt assets sufficient to satisfy the entire judgment debt.  With this information, Chris Creditor may decide to pursue enforcing his judgment exclusively against Dan Deadbeat and collect the whole $60,000 from Dan.  If Chris chose to do this, he would not have to attempt any judgment enforcement against Debbie Deadbeat or Sammy Scumbag.  Chris collects all of the judgment debt owed to him and he goes merrily on his way.

On the other hand, judgment investigation may have revealed that Dan did not have enough assets to pay the entire judgment debt.  In this case, Chris may have elected to pursue assets owned by one or both of the other two debtors.  Chris may have collected $30,000 from Debbie and $30,000 from Sammy.  In this example Dan pays nothing, but Chris still legally collects his $60,000 and Chris is happy as a lark.

Chris might, in another example, have collected $10,000 from Dan, $20,000 from Debbie, and $30,000 from Sammy.  Just as in the other examples, Chris gets paid and the judgment debt is satisfied.

Finally let’s suppose that Chris’s judgment investigation uncovers the fact that all the debtors have ample assets for paying the $60,000 judgment debt.  Chris might enforce on all three debtors at the same time.  This might result in enough judgment debtor assets being grabbed so that there is an excess above the $60,000 needed to satisfy Chris’s judgment.  In this case Chris ends up with his $60,000, but the excess must be returned at once and prior to the mandatory Satisfaction of Judgment being filed.

You can see from these examples how it can be a real advantage when a judgment creditor is collecting from multiple judgment debtors on the same judgment.  It is always a good thing in life to have multiple options for getting something accomplished!

You may also enjoy reading this previous article about successfully enforcing a judgment.  Here’s the link:  http://www.enforcementinstitute.com/?p=117

Happy enforcing!


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Nothing in this article is intended to provide legal advice.  Contact a judgment attorney if you seek legal advice.  This article is provided for informational purposes only.

Why Your Judgment Debtor Won’t Pay You

Do you wonder why your judgment debtor won’t pay you?  Obviously you didn’t go to court against your legal adversary with the idea that you would win the lawsuit, but not collect the money.  When the judge awarded you a money judgment you fully expected to collect the judgment…all of it.  You ask, “My judgment remains uncollected.  Why hasn’t he paid me the amount of the judgment debt?”

There can be any number of reasons why you haven’t been paid your judgment money.  Usually the main reasons a judgment goes uncollected can be narrowed down to just a few simple reasons.  As you read these common reasons in this article, I bet you will be able to identify with one or more of the reasons listed below.

  • Debtor hasn’t been asked to pay – Believe it or not, there are many judgment debtors who don’t pay their judgment debt simply because the judgment creditor has never been contacted and asked to pay.  Some debtors will pay the debt if they are contacted by the creditor demanding payment.  There is a percentage of judgment debtors who will automatically pay as soon as they receive a demand letter from their judgment creditor.
  • Debtor can’t afford to pay – Some debtors just don’t have the ability to pay their debt.  If they absolutely can’t pay, it doesn’t matter if they are willing to pay.  In such cases, it is wise to identify the fact that they truly cannot pay.  Patience is called for.  Just be willing to wait for a future time when their financial position improves so that they will be able to pay the judgment debt.  The challenge is to stay informed about their situation so that you will be ready to collect as soon as the debtor’s finances improve.
  • Debtor has the money, but won’t easily part with a dime that he owes - There are some folks out there who just don’t pay what they owe.  The only time they pay a debt is when they have no choice.  These tough nuts to crack shouldn’t be treated gently.  You have to play hard ball with them.  Be prepared to be met with resistance every step of the way.  The best way to proceed is with the most aggressive enforcement tactics you can employ.  Nothing else works. 
  • Debtor refuses to believe he should pay – These judgment debtors are the kind of legal adversaries who disagree vehemently with the court’s verdict.  They genuinely feel an injustice has occurred.  They think they are victims of a legal injustice.  Don’t be surprised if your debtor falls into this category.  Don’t get caught up in listening to them whine and moan about their loss in the court room.  Keep any contact with them as unemotional as possible.  Make everything all business, as much as possible.
  • Debtor doesn’t know about the judgment- If you won your lawsuit by way of a default judgment, your adversary may honestly not know that he owes a money judgment.  This is a more likely occurrence if the original complaint was not personally served on him.  This is a situation where the judgment may be ripe for vacated or overturned.
  •  It has been a long time since the judgment was handed down, and he has not been forced to pay, so he thinks he never will have to - If it has been a few years since he lost in court, and if there hasn’t been any serious judgment enforcement attempted, then he might reasonably assume that he will never have to pay the judgment debt.  If he has gotten off scott-free for years, why should he expect anything to change in the future.  With this type judgment debtor you should expect to employ serious enforcement devices.

Chances are you recognize your judgment situation in some of these examples above.  If you figure out why your judgment debtor won’t pay, it should give you some very helpful insight into how you should proceed and how to collect your judgment.


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Who is your judgment against? 2nd article

This is a follow up to a previous blog post on this subject:  Who is your judgment against.  We talked in the earlier post about the absolute necessity of having your judgment debtor listed properly.  It can save a lot of headaches down the road if you get this right to begin with.  Whenever a judgment debtor has been misnamed, it opens up a defense for the debtor to use in avoiding paying the money that is due for the judgment.

You want to collect your judgment.  You want to get paid what you are due.  You surely don’t need any unnecessary problems to make it any harder to enforce your judgment.  This post will help you be aware of a potential problem so that you can confirm early-on whether a styling or naming problem even exists with your judgment.

If the debtor is a corporate entity, it is just as critical to make sure that the judgment debtor is named very precisely.  The best thing I can suggest is to go to the corporate records on-line at the Secretary of State’s website.  Look there to confirm precisely how the corporate entity is spelled.  Also, look to see if there are any commas in the name.  Hopefully you will find everything to be listed as it should, but there are many judgments that are unenforceable because of a tiny error in the naming of the party.  Compare these examples of differences you might look for:

ABC Corporation

ABC Company Inc.

ABC Company, Inc.

ABC Company

ABC Corp.

This just shows you that there many similar ways to misname a party and if you don’t pay attention, you can be left with a judgment that is difficult or impossible to collect.

If you do have a judgment with a styling, or naming problem, you might try filing a “Motion to Amend Judgment.”  You will want to do a little research before filing a motion of this type.  Some jurisdictions place a time limit on making any kind of amendment or correction to a judgment.  Some jurisdictions also have certain specific reasons for an amendment being accepted.  I recommend you look into the Rules of Procedure for the court in question and you will find what methods to use in order to correct the naming problem.  You can also check in your local law library to find resources on this subject which can help you.  In any case, you will need to be aware of what methods are allowed in your state and your particular court for getting a name changed and corrected.

If worse comes to worse, and your situation won’t allow an amendment, then you might consider refiling a new lawsuit against your adversary, and being extra careful to name the parties accurately.


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Judgment Debtors – Who Is Your Judgment Against?

Who is your judgment debtor?  It may seem overly simplistic, but it is absolutely essential to be very precise in identifying who is your judgment against.

This post is about one of the critical issues to be faced before proceeding with collecting a judgment.  It is absolutely necessary to determine whether or not the judgment is enforceable.  Some judgments are flawed in ways that make them difficult or impossible to collect on.  The very first issue to consider is who is named in the judgment and the law suit as the party who owes you the money.  The party that is your legal adversary can be one or more natural persons, or a natural person d/b/a (doing business as).  There are other entities that can be named as parties in your law suit, but in this blog post we will only deal specifically with natural persons.  We will save discussion about other entities like LLCs, corporations, etc. for other posts.

If you made an error in how your adversary is named in the law suit, it can result in the whole legal process being a waste of time for you.  The first thing you need to check is the correct name and it’s correct spelling.  If you have gone to court to sue John A Smith, but his actual name is John A Smythe, then you may likely have a problem.  Many sharp judgment debtors or their attorneys have managed to have law suits and judgments voided or thrown out simply over the technicality of the misspelling of their names.

Another similar headache arises if you aren’t specific enough in your suit to identify a person.  What if you went to court against a James Jones who lives at 123 Elm Street, but unknown to you, there is a James Jones, Sr and a James Jones Jr who both live at that address.  What if neither of them showed up in court, and you won by a default judgment.  It can create a mess when you try to find out which one owns the bank account that you are trying to garnish.  Is it the right James Jones or not?  Any time your adversary shows up personally in court, it makes some of the identification easier for you.

Always be certain you name the right person in your lawsuit and in execution of a judgment.  There must not be any confusion in exactly who is your judgment debtor.


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