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How long after creditor judgment before they levy and/or garnish?


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Hello everyone,

I am trying to put off filing my BK until after I receive my tax return and can spend it on my BK lawyer and household expenses.

The issue is that I have a creditor suing me. I have managed to drag out the case, pro se, for over a year now. However, it may be coming to a judgment soon.

I live in Florida which recognizes tenancy by the entirety ( TBE ). So, all my bank accounts are held as TBE with my husband ( my husband is not being sued, debt is mine alone ).

I plan to withdraw funds from any bank accounts with my name on it if the judgment against me does happen. This is because, I have heard, that when a writ of execution is served on a bank, they freeze all accts with your social on them even if they are exempt funds - like TBE. Then you have to fight to get it back.

I also have all assets, including two paid off cars ( worth $6,000 together ) held as tenancy by the entirety. But again, I presume it is "take first, ask questions later"... so, even if they are TBE, they could be seized and I'll need to get a lawyer and fight for them.

In addition, I am head of household. I support myself and my husband ( he is in school ). So, in Florida, that makes me exempt from garnishment unless I specifically agreed to it... again " garnish first, and fight to reverse it after"?... That is the presumption I have been going on to protect myself.

So, my concern is... When the creditor does get a judgement...how long do I have before all that starts happening? I need to know how long I have to file the BK after I find out a judgment has been granted... I want to avoid all I mentioned above.

Thanks All!

Edited by caramia1225
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I don't know how long it takes to sieze your funds/assets.

However, did you know that if you file Ch 7 you can only have 5k of assets ($10k if both of you file) and only $1k of equity in your auto? You might want to sell your vehicles before you file. Check the exemptions for Fl: they are only generous if you have house equity you are protecting - the other exemptions are not generous at all (especially vehicle equity).

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Yes Denita, thank you very much for your reply. I have calculated the exemptions and added up my property in order to come under FL exemption limits.

I apologize... the amount I put on the autos' should have been $6000 total, not $9000. We are either going to file jointly, so we have the $10k exemption, or I will file alone after we have a chance to sell the second car and spend the money on household expenses.

In fact, I have another post on here, asking about how the Trustee calculates my interest in jointly held assets. How we decide to file depends on how we can come up under the exemption limits.

For example, If we have a jointly owned car worth $4000...and I am filing alone... then would the trustee only see $2,000 as part of my BK estate?

Same with personal property... Say we have $1000 in household goods... jointly owned.. Is only $500 part of the BK estate if I file alone?

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I don't know how the trustee looks at your values.

I would *assume* (as dangerous as that is) that in the case of one of you filing, the assets would be split 50/50. However, there is a Trustee over on the West coast of Florida that is very, very agressive in collecting funds for Ch 7 cases. I understand that she even sends out appraisers to some of the BK filer's property to determine the values! Having said that, it is a rare occurance. Check Bkforum.com for details on this particular Fl Trustee - she has a national reputation.

A vehicle is much easier to value. The allowed equity, per filer is $1000. So, if you have two debtors and the vehicle is worth $4k, then only $2k is allowed and you would either "buy back" your vehicle by paying in $2k or the Trustee would get the vehicle, sell it and give you $2k.

The key here is valuation. For furniture and household goods, including clothing and everything else, you would use garage sale type values. For vehicle values the Trustees here in Fl generally use NADA values (which run high).

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Thank you Denita, glad I don't live on the West Coast!!

In your car scenario... our goal would be to cover that $2,000 remaining in the vehicle with the balance of the personal property exemption.

If our car and other personal property all added together are under $10k... then we would not have to buy back the car.

Same if I file alone...except the exemption is now only $5k total.

This is why I am trying to determine what my interest in personal property owned jointly would be... to see if I would come under the $5k alone with one car.. Of course, if we sold the 2nd car... it would have to be for close to market price and we would need time to spend that money on household expenses before filing.

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Here is a link to an attorney that is very reputable in Fl Bk's and his explanation of exemptions Florida bankruptcy law, exemptions, filing bankruptcy

Here is a link to a very good explanation of Fl bankruptcy exemptions too: Florida Bankruptcy Exemptions - FL Homestead Exemption - Florida Bankruptcy Law :: Legal Consumer.com

If you are in the Southern District of Florida, PM me and I can give you the name of an excellent BK attorney.

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I don't know how long it takes to sieze your funds/assets.

However, did you know that if you file Ch 7 you can only have 5k of assets ($10k if both of you file) and only $1k of equity in your auto? You might want to sell your vehicles before you file. Check the exemptions for Fl: they are only generous if you have house equity you are protecting - the other exemptions are not generous at all (especially vehicle equity).

Not a good idea. Bankruptcy isn't like dealing with a JDB lawyer, this is the federal government. They will go back at least two years to see what you sold or transferred out of your name. Unless you can show you used the money to try to get square, they could bag you with criminal prosecution.

Check this link:

Consumer Tip: DEBTORS' RIGHTS IN FLORIDA

In bankruptcy, you usually have a choice of whether to use the federal exemptions o your state exemptions. When can they start garnishment, etc.? Any time they want after they get a judgment. Sometimes they wait, trying to trap you into thinking they forgot about you. Check your laws to see how long a judgment lasts, and if it can be renewed.

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I'm not suggesting doing any sort of illegal transfer or without an attorney in advance of any action. You are allowed to sell assets before filing as long as you follow the law. Naturally you have to disclose everything and show where all the funds go.

Some of us (me for example) had to provide more than 2 yrs of documentation (bank statements and each and every asset disposition for up to 10 years) at the time of filing. You can use the funds to pay your BK attorney or pay the IRS or for living expenses. There are time periods that the debtors have to abide by including payments made to creditors prior to filing. Or you can surrender the asset in BK. This is why I was telling her the exemptions in Fl are small for a vehicle. Her vehicle is at risk. She needs to understand that going into the BK if she chooses to file. Her best best is to acually speak to an attorney to see what her options are for filing or not.

Having said the above, your link is very good in that it points out that the debtor can not transfer any asset to avoid creditors as it may be considered a fraudulent transfer. All in all, its best she contact an attorney if she plans to file Bk.

Edited by Denita
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Thank you legaleagle for your comments and Denita as well...

With all due respect legaleagle... I know you have good intentions, and I appreciate your feedback, however, it is not true that you must have "tried to get square" with the proceeds of the asset sale or they could "bag you with criminal prosecution". In fact, if you "tried to get square" with a creditor within 90 days of filing, the trustee could avoid or set aside those payments as a preferred creditor. So, NOT a good idea.

The spreading of this sort of information is what feeds people's fears, and does not help them. I see that you have probably helped a lot of people on this board... and that is very kind and generous of you, but please, be aware of things like the aforementioned comment. It could cause people to do something not in their own best interest because of false fears.

Denita is right... As long as you can show you used the proceeds for regular household expenses or your legal fees or even an IRS tax debt there is nothing to fear.

Just an observation...

Isn't it funny how when regular citizens like ourselves become informed about the law so we can use that knowledge to serve our best interest... the powers that be want to brainwash us into thinking that is fraud...

Yet, when the rich and corporations do the same thing it is called "business"

No one would expect a corporation to do something that would hurt their financial interests but individuals are expected to hurt themselves because of some sort of "morals"? The hypocrisy stinks to high heaven.

Just another way the regular citizen is kept in their place...

Same for strategic mortgage loan defaults...or walking away from an upside down mortgage... Businesses have done things like that forever.... That IS business. But the common citizen doing the same is a "deadbeat".... brainwashing at it's finest. Don't buy it!!!

Lying is not necessary to serve your own best interest in bankruptcy... knowledge of the law and working your situation around it so you come out on top is just protecting yourself.

We are brainwashed with all these fears to make us do things that are not in our best interest...

Sorry for the rant, but I see so much fear on here... people willing to do things that hurt themselves because they are afraid of getting in trouble.

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Not a problem, I just wanted to make it clear that certain activities, such as dumping or transferring assets and then filing bankruptcy, can most certainly be a prosecutable offense. By "getting square" I meant that the money should logically be put to legitemate use, not hidden under the mattress. Actually, all the BK forms are on line. This would be something anyone would want to look at before filing. It isn't as easy as people think. You are actually asking for permission to file, it isn't something you just go out and do, pay 900, and all your bills go away. They do a rather intensive investigation. Some of what gets posted here can be misinterpreted, we all try to help and sometimes type faster than our brains operate. "Sell your car before you file" raised the red flag with me because there was no follow up explaining what to do with the money. Newbies that come here have some bizarre ideas about the law. Throwing a little scare into them is always better than letting them think they can get away with activities that may harm their case.

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Legaleagle...you are right, I should have at least followed up with the choices of where the money can be spent and a more general advice of seeking attorney advice before doing anything after the "sell the asset" comment.

My brain was moving faster than my fingers..:(

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Yeah, my fingers are a lot faster than my brain most nights too. She should also be aware of the nightmare scenario that BK can become. Creditors can contest, which means huge potential legal bills from your BK laywer. A recent poster got hit with a 40 grand bill which of course is after the fact and not dischargeable. Now she can look forward to being sued by her own lawyer. Best to get an iron clad fee agreement before you start. You are right, seek legal advice, this is something no pro se should try. You're messing with the fed. How did Sean Connery say it in The Untouchables....."you're mucking with the G, fella."

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LeagleEagle...I definitely see where you're coming from.

LeagalEagle and Denita... I think when things are so familiar to us, we sometimes can't picture how someone with no knowledge might view the tidbit of info we are giving them. It's bound to happen...

I guess that's why its best to get information from a lot of sources... One person can never think of everything.

Hey...btw, I would love to be able to find a BK attorney here in S. Florida for "$900"...lol

Denita... I had a consult with a BK lawyer here in Broward County, FL. He came by referral and seems pretty good, but I would be interested in hearing about the lawyer you are familiar with... I'll PM you!

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