Tuesday, March 8, 2011

What happens when you get a Judgment in Cook County, Illinois?

A judgment is a lawsuit that was successful. A judgment enables a Plaintiff to perform certain actions against you or your business in order to collect the money that is owed to them. In Cook County, Illinois, a judgment is enforced in Room 1401 of the Richard J. Daley Center. The purpose of Room 1401 is to coordinate Citations to Discover Asset's proceedings. Essentially, a Plaintiff must file appropriate paperwork and give notice to the Defendant to show up. A Defendant is sworn in under oath and is asked a series of questions. These questions are essentially designed to find out whether you have any money that the Plaintiff can take. These assets include bank accounts, business interests, real estate, cars, personal property, accounts receivable and other assets.

In Illinois, a Defendant has a $4,000 personal property exemption, which means that a Defendant can protect up to $4,000 of personal property without the Plaintiff seizing this money/assets. For example, a common asset that is frozen is a banking account. If you own a checking account with $5,000, you have a legal right to exempt $4,000 in personal funds. Anything above $4,000 may legally be seized by the Plaintiff. Practically speaking, a Plaintiff will issue a Garnishment Citation to your Bank and your bank will set aside all of your monies in your bank account. The Plaintiff is entitled to every penny unless you file appropriate paperwork at the Circuit Court of Cook County in a timely manner.

After a judgment occurs, typically thirty days will go by and the Plaintiff will begin collecting against your bank accounts. As a rule of thumb, a Defendant should be aware that the Plaintiff will try to surprise them and freeze their bank account. Thus, a Defendant should be careful about writing checks because the checks will bounce and NSFs and bank fees will be substantial. The good news is with an attorney, you can get a court order to force the Bank to waive the Bank fees if your funds are protected by federal and/or state law.

Moreover, when a judgment occurs, a lien automatically is placed on any real estate that you own in your personal name. This is one reason it is important to have a Private Land Trust set up. A Private Land Trust prevents a judgment from attaching to your real estate. However, you cannot fraudulently transfer your house or investment property into a Private Land Trust to prevent a judgment being attached to your property when proceedings are occuring. Preventing a lien against your property interest is important because you must pay off all liens prior to selling your real estate. Therefore, a lien may prevent you from ever being able to sell your real estate without paying off a lien. At first glance, many people desire to pay off their bills. However, there are times when it is simply impossible to pay your judgment off. I had one particular client that desired to settle his judgment until he realized that the interest alone on his case was over $5,000 per month. It simply was impossible and impractical for him and his wife to pay this judgment. Fortunately for them, they had hired my law firm to protect their assets. Our asset protection plan worked as planned.

Sean Robertson is an Asset Protection Attorney for Physicians, Dentists, and Business Owners. If you need an asset protection attorney, Sean Robertson is happy to assist you. Sean Robertson may be reached at (312) 498-6080.

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