Is it ever too late to protect assets? The answer is of course! How about when a lien is placed by a creditor on the debtor’s assets.
We occasionally get inquiries from prospective clients of the following nature: "They just got a judgment against me, but they still haven’t gotten my assets. Can I still protect them?"
While most lawyers will not get involved in cases with such last minute planning, it may be a moot point. What does it mean that a creditor has obtained a judgment but has not taken the assets?
Often it means that the creditor has obtained the judgment and then recorded the abstract of judgment with the County Recorder’s office. That attaches the judgment as a lien to any real estate in the debtor’s name in that county. Once the lien is in place it is impossible to dispose of the real property without paying off the creditor.
More importantly, the creditor, who now has a secured lien, may initiate a foreclosure action. Yes, the debtor is still living in his house, but it is simply a matter of time.
Sometimes, there is no help for those who procrastinate for too long, and rightfully so. Plan when a lawsuit is possible. Certainly plan once the lawsuit has been filed. Don’t come looking for help after the judgment. Most of the time, no one will be able to help.