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Effective Use of Citations to Discover Assets in Complex Collection Cases

If someone owes you money but refuses to pay no matter how hard you press them, you must go to court and obtain a judgment to collect your debt. However, even then, some debtors refuse to pay up unless you take enforcement action. Collecting on the judgment requires that you know what assets the debtor has. If that is the case, Illinois law puts a powerful tool at your disposal — known as a citation to discover assets.

After obtaining a judgment, a creditor may obtain a citation to discover assets from the circuit court clerk and serve it on the debtor. The citation requires the debtor to answer questions under oath and specifies the documents the debtor must bring to the court session. It also includes a form on which the debtor must list its income and assets.

If the debtor appears in court, they will be sworn in and your attorney may question them about their income, finances and property. If the debtor doesn’t appear or does not produce the required documents, the judge may order them to appear on a new date and time. If the debtor still refuses to appear or produce documents, the judge may hold them in contempt.

Based on the documents and sworn testimony of the debtor at the hearing, the creditor’s attorney can employ measures to execute on the available assets. This can include garnishment of wages, attachment of bank accounts, selling off assets and recording a lien on real estate.

However, the procedure doesn’t always go smoothly. The debtor might try to evade answering the questions or might answer them incompletely or dishonestly. A skilled and experienced debt collection attorney will know how to target questions, investigate public records and expose inaccuracies.

Another potential problem is that state law exempts certain assets from being used to pay debts. If a significant part of the debtor’s property is exempt, whatever non-exempt property is left might not be enough to pay the full judgment. A skilled collection attorney can ensure that the debtor does not claim exemptions to which they aren’t entitled.

Still another possibility is that some of the debtor’s assets may be held by a third party, such as a bank. Your attorney can find this out and if necessary can issue a citation to discover assets against that third-party.

Schwartz & Kanyock LLC in Chicago is experienced in employing all effective legal means to obtain and collect on Illinois judgments, including the use of citations to discover assets. Call us at 312-436-1442 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation.

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