Creditors can take legal action against you if you default on debt payments. Before the judge makes a ruling, the courts must first issue a court summons. Failure to respond to the summons almost guarantees a judgment in favor of the creditor. With a legal ruling in hand, creditors have the freedom to freeze your bank account, garnish your wages, and seize your personal property. If you recently lost a judgment to a creditor, it is vital that you know what they can and cannot take to satisfy your debt.
Your immediate funds are likely to be the initial target of a judgment creditor. To gain access to your checking and savings account, the creditor must first obtain a writ of execution. The writ is filed with your bank and allows the debt collector to collect the total amount owed directly from your account. If you lack the necessary funds to fulfill the debt, they can continue to garnish up to 85% of your wages until you pay the debt in full.
There are some types of funds that are exempt from garnishment. A few examples include:
- FEMA aid
- Student loan reimbursement
- Social Security Income (SSI)
- Retirement benefits
- Unemployment compensation
A creditor can also seize your personal property to satisfy a debt. If your debt is attached to a tangible object like a car, house, or appliance, it is considered a secured debt and can be repossessed for repayment. Judgment creditors can also authorize a sheriff to come to your residence and take your belongings and any cash on hand. This method is known as a “till tap.”
However, it is unlikely that a creditor will go to such lengths to collect funds. A creditor is more likely to attach a “judgment lien” on your real estate or assets. The lien provides the authority to collect the proceeds from when you refinance or sell the property.
One thing creditors cannot take from you is your home. You are covered under Illinois’ homestead exemption if you own your home. The guideline states that your home is protected from forced sale for debt payment unless it is directly related to the debt. Homestead exemptions in the state of Illinois are as follows:
- $15,000 in equity for your home or any land occupied as residence
- $30,000 in equity for a couple that owns a home jointly
- Property owned entirely by a tenancy
- Homestead sale proceeds are exempt from seizure for up to one year
Are you being sued by a creditor for outstanding debt? Let Heather Benveniste with Benveniste Law offices work for you! She can represent you in court to negotiate your debt with judgment creditors on the most favorable terms. Take the first step toward a debt-free life and contact us today at 1-800-497-5358 to speak with an Illinois debt settlement attorney.