10.30.21

What Personal Property Can Be Seized in a Judgment in Kansas?

In a civil lawsuit such as a personal injury case, if the injured victim (plaintiff) receives a court-approved judgment, it becomes the defendant’s legal responsibility to pay the judgment. However, not every defendant or debtor pays the money owed right away. This can lead to a lien being placed against the defendant’s personal property to pay for the judgment over time – either through wage garnishment or seizing and selling the defendant’s property.

What Is a Judgment Lien?

A judgment lien is a legal hold on a debtor’s income, assets or property to pay off a debt owed in the form of a court judgment, such as one given to a plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit in Kansas. According to the state’s collection laws, a judgment lien gives a creditor the legal right to seize (take possession) of the debtor’s property if he or she fails to fulfill the financial obligation owed to a creditor. 

The most common properties seized because of a judgment lien are real estate, vehicles and wages. In most cases, a collector will start with wage garnishment to pay off a debt, and then move to the seizure and sale of property to fund the judgment through proceeds. Any property owned is at risk of being seized with a judgment lien. If the defendant leases a property, he or she could also be forced out with a lien.

What Property Can a Lien Seize?

A judgment lien is a type of nonconsensual lien because it can become attached to the debtor’s property without his or her consent or permission. It is created when a plaintiff wins a lawsuit and the courts enter a judgment against the defendant, but the defendant cannot or does not pay. In Kansas, judgment liens can be entered against many different types of property owned by the defendant, including:

  • Wages or income 
  • Bank accounts
  • Funds held by a financial institution
  • A home
  • Real estate or real property
  • A business
  • Intangible property, such as accounts receivables
  • Vehicles 
  • Building materials
  • Crops
  • Livestock 
  • Labor and materials

The type of property involved in the judgment lien will depend on the nature of the lien. Building materials, crops and livestock may be involved in a lien, for example, if the judgment involves the failure of a supplier to meet the terms of a contract. Note, however, that retirement funds are generally exempt from judgment liens under Kansas law. A lien can also lead to the seizure of property acquired by the defendant in the future. For example, if the defendant doesn’t own any real estate at the time that the judgment is entered, but purchases a home a few years later, an old lien can come back to seize the property and sell it to pay off creditors. 

How Long Does a Judgment Lien Last in Kansas?

In Kansas, a judgment does not expire until five years after it is entered by the courts. After five years, if the judgment is not executed, it will become dormant, meaning the defendant will no longer be responsible for paying any remaining amount. However, the plaintiff has two years from the date that it becomes dormant to file a request for revivor with the courts. If granted, the courts will revive the dormant judgment and any related liens will be reactivated. 

It is possible to get out of a judgment lien early, in some situations, by filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. This is a serious decision, however, that can have numerous repercussions on different aspects of the defendant’s life and livelihood. Without bankruptcy, the judgment lien will remain for the required period of time or until the defendant has fully paid off the judgment given to the plaintiff.

For more information about judgment awards, judgment liens and the seizure of personal property after a lawsuit in Kansas, contact an attorney today.

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