Bank Account Garnishment
When a creditor is having trouble collecting debts from you he may take his grievance to the courts and ask them for a bank account garnishment. If the judge grants it, the creditor will be able to reach into your bank account and remove monies directly from it. The bank account garnishment may be from a private creditor or it may be public as in an irs wage garnishment.
Before the above scenario happens, however, you will receive a summons from the court to appear on a certain date and time to present your side of the story. If you fail to appear on your court date, unless you or your lawyer have requested a continuance or delay, the court will have no choice but to rule against you. In this case the judge may direct the bank to distribute certain of your funds directly to the creditor.
If, for some reason, you never received a summons due to you having moved or been out of town or some other reason, you can appeal the courts decision on that basis. If the appeal is successful, you can have the judgement vacated and the case may be retried. If the sums of money involved are significant, and you believe that you are in the right, you may want to get an attorney to represent you.
The court will not allow all of the money to be removed from your account. It follows a mathematical formula to leave your family enough for basic living expenses.
There are certain bank account funds that are exempt from garnishment. Typical, would be monies from alimony or child support, social security, disability benefits, workers compensation, and a slew of other categories.
If there are other funds that you feel should be exempt, you can file an appeal to exempt those funds. Depending on the court backlog, however, this may take a while so it's best to start the appeal process as much as possible.
A bank account garnishment differs from a wage garnishment in that it is a one time deal. This means that they have one chance to remove the money from your bank account. For example, if your debt amount is $500, the creditor may legally take any amount up to $500 from that account. If the account has only $400 of non-exempt funds in it, they make take the entire $400. They may not come back, however, at a later time to collect the remaining $100. If they want to do that, they will have to go through the court process again to garnish the remaining amount.
Your bank is required by law to send you a copy of the paperwork that authorized them to garnish your account. This should contain the basic information that you need to contest it if you so desire.
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