I have had a lot of cases where I received the assignment of Judgment then came to find out the Judgment Debtor had died. So what do I do when the Judgment Debtor dies? Can I still collect the outstanding judgment and interest which has accumulated?
Unfortunately when I come to find out a judgment debtor has died. The estate usually has already been settled. But always dig and look deep to find those little things which can pay off. My slogan is to “never, ever, give up on a case.”
Here is a true war story for you on this very topic. I had an assignment from a Judgment Creditor that had not gotten a dime from the Judgment Debtor. The Judgment debtor had his own business. A “Doing Business As” business which was a sole proprietorship. Once I had the assignment from the judgment creditor and had it filed in the Circuit Court in Illinois. I came to find out within the very first hour of doing my profile of the judgment debtor that he had passed away about 18 months earlier.
Well that was strike one for the case going south. The next strike came with checking on the business. I called the number and it had a answer machine so I left a message to give me a call back because I had some questions about there service. About 3 days later I got a phone call from a woman saying the business was no longer operating since the owner had passed away.
Well Strike two towards the case heading south. But I started to ask a few questions to the woman I was speaking to. It happened to be the widow of the Judgment Debtor who owned the business. I had asked her a few more questions about the business and if she was involved in the business at all. She explained to me that she had a few of the workers that would do some “Hand Selected Jobs” that would come along from phone calls and the website which was still active. She also told me that she was in the process of selling the client list and the business as a whole to someone that might be interested in buying it.
It is amazing what information starts to come out when you just let people talk. So I thanked her for the information and hung up from the conversation. I had some work to do checking out a few facts.
First. I wanted to find out when the Judgment debtor was married. Second, I wanted to do some more checking into property with the business name and the judgment debtors name. So off to the courthouse I go!
My first stop was the county recorders office. I found out the Judgment Debtor has a property still in his name. In fact it is the very house the widow of the Judgment debtor lives in. Next I found to property also in the name of the business the Judgment debtor had. Things where turning around.
Next, I wanted to check on a thought about the properties being up for sale. So I drove by both properties and sure enough “For Sale” signs up at both property locations. So back to the courthouse I went with a Memorandum of Judgment for the Judge to sign. With the signed Memorandum of Judgment in hand I went right to the County Recorders office and filed the Memorandum of Judgment to get a lien on both properties.
Next, I called the realtor who had both properties to inquire if any offers where currently on the two properties. I was told that both properties had offers pending but not yet accepted. My day was getting sunny by the minute.
About a six weeks pasted when I had a call from the title company on the house the judgment debtor had. The title company was getting ready to settle the closing and needed to clear the title of the lien. They needed to total amount so a check could be written and sent to me after closing the property.
I added up the judgment, costs and interest to the date of the closing and told the title company to make the check out for $13,515.76 and I would mail the Satisfaction of Judgment to dismiss the judgment to them for closing. Done deal!
The thing to always remember is we never give up on a case. Yes, it is hard and imposable to collect from a judgment debtor who has died but in this case the judgment debtor still had assets that where still in the process of being liquidated. The house and property sat on the market for almost two years but for me it was perfect timing.