Bank Levies and Wage Garnishments in California

Gavel-Money-2061149When a plaintiff (judgment creditor) is awarded damages in a lawsuit, he/she needs to take certain steps to enforce the judgment. In some circumstances, the judgment creditor may need to seize bank account assets or garnish wages to enforce his/her judgment. Read on to learn more.

How to Execute a Bank Levies in California:

If a judgment debtor fails to pay the judgment creditor, the judgment creditor may be able to execute a bank levy to collect unpaid debts. A bank levy permits judgment creditors to have a judgment debtor’s bank account seized in order to satisfy the payment of an outstanding debt.

In order to execute a bank levy, the judgment creditor will have to locate the judgment debtor’s bank account. The judgment creditor can conduct an Debtor’s Examination (this is a formal court proceeding) in which he/she can question the judgment debtor about the nature and value of their bank account(s).

Once the desired information is obtained, the judgment creditor will have to obtain a Writ of Execution and complete a Notice of Levy. The Writ of Execution is a court order instructing the sheriff to seize the judgment debtor’s property in the county in which the bank account is located.

Upon obtaining a Writ of Execution, the judgment creditor will need to write a letter to the levying officer (oftentimes, the Sheriff is the designated levy official for the county) and explain what needs to be done in order to seize the property (bank account).

Next, the judgment creditor will need to hire a registered process server to open a file at the local sheriff’s office and provide a copy of the Writ of Execution, Notice of Levy, letter of instruction, and proof of payment of levy fees. Once the registered process server has filed the required documents with the levying agency, he/she can serve the levy on the bank. The levy officer will distribute the proceeds to the judgment creditor.

Note, the debtor’s name must be on the bank account in order for a levy to be placed against it.

The judgment debtor has approximately 10 days to oppose the bank levy before the sheriff sends the money to the judgment creditor.

How to Execute Wage Garnishments in California:

Under California State law, if a judgment debtor is working, a judgment creditor can intercept up to 25% of wages to pay an outstanding debt. The judgment debtor must receive regular wages, not be subject to existing wage garnishments, and his/her pay must be above the poverty line.

The judgment creditor will have to locate the judgment debtor’s workplace. If the judgment creditor is unable to determine the location, he/she can conduct an Debtor’s Examination to find out. Once the judgment creditor finds out where the judgment debtor works, the judgment creditor will need to fill out the Writ of Execution and complete an Application for Earnings Withholding.

Once the judgment creditor obtains the requested order, he/she will need to hire a registered process server to serve the employer with the necessary papers for the wage garnishment. The registered process server will need to complete the Earning Withholding Order using the information from the Writ of Execution. The process server must also serve the employer with the Employer's Return and Employee Instructions.

At Direct Legal Support, Inc., we provide bank levy and wage garnishment services to residents throughout the State of California. You can contact us for more information about our services at 1-800-675-KERN or click here.

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