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Can someone place a judgment lien on a house that belongs to a family trust?

Visalia, CA |

My former business partner sued me for a breach of contract action two years ago and won. I was unable to pay on the judgment. My wife and I have a home that was placed into a family trust five years ago. I just found out that the plaintiff put a judgment lien on my house. Is he able to do this even though the house is in a trust that belongs to my wife and I?

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Attorney answers 3


A judgment creditor can lien or levy on anything and everything the judgment debtor owns unless specifically exempted. Assuming you have retained some rights in the trust as a beneficiary or otherwise, it is subject to seizure. Some attorney would have to examine the trust itself to determine what if any rights are retained and subject to the judgment.
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Disclaimer: California attorney Robert Miller has practiced for over 46 years and restricts his practice to real estate and probate matters in the Central District of Los Angeles. Any opinion expressed is for general informational purposes only, no attorney-client relationship is intended or created by this answer, and no action or inaction should be contemplated without first employing and consulting with a competent attorney convenient to the questioner.


Attorney Miller has done a nice job explaining. Essentially, a trust vehicle that is revocable or where you maintain some control of assets included in the trust is likely unprotected from the reach of creditors. An irrevocable trust, however, may offer additional protections from the reach of creditors as the trust assets no longer remain in your control, generally speaking.

Ultimately, for a true legal opinion on your specific scenario the trust documents need to be inspected by a lawyer to determine your exposure to creditors via assets held in trust.

NOTE: we can be reached at (310) 590-4575. This answer is made available by the lawyer for educational purposes only. By using or participating in this site you understand that there is no attorney client privilege between you and the attorney responding. This site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney with whom you have established an attorney client relationship. The law changes frequently and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The information and materials provided are general in nature, and may not apply to a specific factual or legal circumstance described in the question.


What do you mean by "placed a lien upon the house?" do you mean that an Abstract of Judgment was recorded with the County Recorder? Or has the creditor filed proceedings in court to foreclose upon the house? An attorney should review the relevant documents and give you specific advise.

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