The sheriff just served me with a “Notice of Right to Have Exemptions Designated,” what do I do now?

North Carolina law sets forth certain “exemptions” that you, the judgment debtor, are entitled to.  Exemptions allow you to keep or exempt certain property notwithstanding the judgment.  Most of these exemptions are set forth in N.C.G.S. 1C-1601.  The judgment creditor is required to serve you notice of your rights to designate your exemptions, by registered or certified mail or through the Sheriff’s Office.  If service by these means is not accomplished, the notice may be served by regular mail.  


Once you receive this notice you must act quickly as North Carolina law gives you only 20 days from when you receive the notice to claim your exemptions.   You should take note of the date it is received, since the date does not appear on the notice itself.  


If you don’t timely and properly claim your exemptions rights by filing a “Motion to Claim Exempt Property” (a blank copy of which is attached to the “Notice of Right to Claim Exemptions”), the sheriff will seize your property to satisfy your debt to the judgement creditor.   It is recommended that you consider using an attorney to properly complete the motion to claim exempt property. We would be happy to assist you complete the motion for a small fee, generally $150.00.  


Once the state court receives the motion to designate exemptions, the court will issue an order allowing or disallowing your exemptions. 


An execution will then be issued, which will remain valid for 90 days, and will allow the sheriff to search for and seize unexempt property.  Such property may include bank accounts, vehicles and other property–including the sale of your real estate.  After the execution expires the whole process can be repeated by the judgment creditor for as long as the judgement is valid (which is 10 years, however, this period can be extended for another 10 years — for a total of 20 years).  


Moreover, the judgment will continue to grow over time.  For example, a $5,000 judgment could grow to $13,000.00 over the length of time the judgement may be valid.     


Many people that are faced with a judgment and the ensuing execution process determine that bankruptcy is their best option, as it will often eliminate the judgment, wipe out the debt and permanently end the collection process.   This is especially true if there are other debts in addition to the judgment. 


Please feel free to contact us for a free consultation to determine if bankruptcy is your best option.  If we find that bankruptcy is not your best option, we will not hesitate to advise you of your other options.  Even if you do not want to consider bankruptcy we can assist you properly complete the motion to claim exempt property for only $150.00, thus assuring that you can keep all the property the law allows you to keep. 


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Related Articles: Exemptions; Judgements; Avoiding Judicial Liens; I have been served with a summons and complaint what should you do now? 


(Notice of Right to Have Exemptions Designated: Form AOC-CV-406)
(Motion to Claim Exempt Property: Form AOC-CV-415) 


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