Can a Collector Take My Home or My Kids’ Inheritance with a Judgment Lien?

Eric Olsen, Executive Director of HELPS Nonprofit Law Firm, answers…

Many income sources for seniors are protected

Homestead exemptions can help protect your most important asset

  • Some states like Texas and Oklahoma have unlimited exemptions
  • Other states, like California and Florida, have large exemption amounts
  • Then other states have very small or no exemptions, like Virginia and Pennsylvania
  • Some states also have increased homestead exemptions for seniors

Foreclosure from a judgment lien is extremely unlikely

  • The judgment holder would incur significant attorney fees with no guarantee of a positive result.
  • There is always the question of how much equity there is in the home. Any prior mortgage, property taxes, or tax liens would have to be paid first from foreclosure sale proceeds.
  • Then a state homestead exemption would have to be paid to the homeowner before a judgment creditor would get anything.
  • If a judgment is against only one spouse, a home owned by both husband and wife can prevent a foreclosure.
  • Different forms of bankruptcy can stop a judgment lien foreclosure.

How can a judgment lien be removed if one is in place?

1. The lien does not apply to the surviving spouse

2. Homestead exemption could prevent a lien or remove it

3. The homeowner files bankruptcy

Adding children to a property deed as joint owners

What if a senior has a low income with a house payment and debts that they have difficulty paying, but they have significant equity in a home?

How a judgment lien could affect a reverse mortgage

The bottom line

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