Creditor may have a limited time to get a financial judgment

REAL ESTATE MATTERS

Real Estate Matters

December 21, 2008|By Ilyce R. Glink and Samuel J. Tamkin

Can a company put a lien on your house or property if you're incarcerated? My brother has been in jail for 10 years. He returned his car to the finance company and they in turn auctioned it off for $4,000 less than what he owed on it. Can they sue or take his house?

Whether a person is incarcerated or not isn't the issue. If a creditor is able to get a judgment against the person who owed it money, that creditor can then try to satisfy that judgment anyway it can. One of those ways is to go after assets owned by the debtor: his bank accounts, cars and even real estate.

The simple answer to your question would be that your brother's house is at risk if the creditor has a valid judgment against your brother to force the home to be sold. In some circumstances, the home may be protected depending on how the title to the home is held and whether your brother's family lives in the home. But you'll need to talk to an attorney to go over these specific issues.

Most states have time limits for judgments. You should try to determine whether the creditor still has the right to pursue the judgment against your brother. Ten years is a long time. The creditor might have had to go back to court to keep the judgment against your brother active. If the creditor did not follow the proper procedures in keeping the judgment against your brother alive, the creditor may have lost its right to continue to go after your brother.

Samuel J. Tamkin is a Chicago-based real estate attorney. Ilyce R. Glink's latest book is "100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask." If you have questions for them, write: Real Estate Matters Syndicate, P.O. Box 366, Glencoe, IL 60022 or contact them through Ilyce's Web site at thinkglink.com.

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