Authored By: Legal Services Alabama
If you owe money to a person or business and cannot pay, they will try to collect. If a creditor sues you and gets a court judgment, the creditor may have the right to execute against your property. This document explains how a creditor does this and what you can do to protect your property.
A creditor may have a way to get its judgment paid: Execution.
What is an execution?
It is the legal term for an order for the Sheriff to take property and sell it to pay a judgment.
How does an execution work?
- The creditor with the judgment against you files papers with the Court.
- The Sheriff will serve you with the execution papers.
- The Sheriff may allow you some time to try and reach an agreement with the creditor, or file a claim of exemption.
- If the creditor does not release the execution and you do nothing, the Sheriff will set a date to sell your property.
What can a creditor get from me?
The Sheriff can take property that you own.
How can I stop an execution?
You may be able to stop it by filing a claim of exemptions. A claim of personal property exemption works if:
- You have less than $3000 worth of property. If you owe money on something, you can subtract that from its value.
- The judgment is on a contract or some other debt that allows exemption.
- If the Sherriff picked up property and is holding it to be sold, you may still be able to claim it as exempt before it is sold. Unless the creditor is able to then contest the claim of exemption, the property will be returned to you and the creditor will have to pay all the storage costs.
If the execution is on your house and land, you can stop it for a period of time by filing a claim of homestead exemption.
- This will stop the execution if your equity is less than $5000.
- If the judgment is against you and your spouse, you can protect up to $10,000. Both of you and your spouse must be on the deed and living in the house.
- Even if your equity is too high to protect in full, it is important to claim your exemption. Otherwise, you will lose it.
- In most cases you may also get some more time by filing your homestead exemption.
- You can stop the execution by filing a bankruptcy in some cases.
- You can try to get the creditor to release the execution. Most will not do so unless you pay at least at least a portion of the judgment.
- You should talk to a lawyer about how you can protect your property.
Reviewed September 2008
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