I have a judgment against my property from 2004. In the original paper work the only exemptions that I claimed was the property. I did not claim any personal property. They have now served me with copies of the right to personal exemptions. which I did not fill out in the original paperwork back in 2004. I have made payments to a law office in Raleigh, NC. Is this legal for them to do, and how can I legally protect myself without losing my property?
Consult with an attorney licensed to practice law in North Carolina to discuss your rights and exemptions in this situation. Generally speaking, wages cannot be garnished in North Carolina for the collection of a money judgment, so a wage garnishment should not be a major concern. In addition, as a practical matter, most creditors do not try to actually seize personal property such as electronics, jewelry, etc., because such items must be sold at auction and are generally of little value to the creditor. Unless you own very valuable jewelry, furs, or other luxury items, you probably do not need to worry about the judgment creditor attempting to come into your home to seize your property.
Finally, in my experience most creditors do not attempt to seize vehicles for the repayment of judgments. Most people owe more money on their cars than the vehicles are worth, and by the time a vehicle is paid off the vehicle has usually lost most of its value. For a creditor to go through the effort of seizing a vehicle and selling it at auction to receive only a couple thousand dollars is generally impractical. However, if you own a vehicle outright that is worth a good bit of money, you may want to discuss with an attorney how to protect this asset.
For most people in North Carolina, the primary target of a judgment creditor attempting to enforce a judgment is a personal bank account. Creditors can often levy a bank account, seizing most, if not all, of the funds in the account to pay toward the judgment. Some types of income, such as Social Security and Unemployment benefits are exempt from attachment. If you are receiving income from an exempt source, I encourage you to consult with an attorney or your bank about the best way to protect your funds.
Unless you have a written agreement with the law firm stating that they will not seek to enforce the judgment against you if you continue making payments, the fact that you are making payments does not legally prevent the creditor from attempting to seek other methods to collect money from you. You may want to contact the law firm, asking them to reduce your payment agreement to writing, and asking them to add a clause to the agreement stating that the creditor will not attempt to execute on the judgment as long as you are making payments each month.
For more information about what assets are exempt from creditor execution in North Carolina, read the Bills.com North Carolina Collection Laws Page. Again, I also strongly encourage you to consult with an attorney to discuss this situation and to determine your rights and the best course of action available to you.
I wish you the best of luck in resolving this judgment, and hope that the information I have provided helps you Find. Learn. Save.