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I received a judgment letter from sheriff office about a debt. what should I do or expect?

Greer, SC |

I lost my job in 2009, and I had to return my to the dealer. Now I received a judgment letter from the sheriff's office saying I have 5 days to complete a worksheet with my properties. What can I do, or expect if I go to the sheriff's office?

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Attorney answers 3


The sheriff is responsible for determining if a consumer has any assets to satisfy a properly filed judgment, meaning is there any non-exempt property of value upon which a lien can be placed and the property sold to pay off the judgment. For SC residents, there are exemptions, laws, which protect certain pieces of property from sale by judgment creditors.

For example, SC residents can currently protect approximately $56,000 worth of equity in a principal place of residence. If owned jointly by a spouse or another party also using the home as a principal place of residence, then the exemption value doubles. So, if the home's value, equity minus any liens, does not exceed the exemption then a judgment creditor is unable to force a sale of the property. The same analysis is made for vehicles, though can only protect one under the vehicle exemption, household goods, etc.

Notably, the exemption does not necessarily stop the placement of the lien, though it can stop a forced sale where applicable. The lien may still be placed so that if the owner ever sells the property, he or she must first satisfy the lien. Also, since there are 10 years in SC to collect on a judgment, it could later become an issue if one's property value increases beyond the exemption or unexempt property is later acquired.

Consumers will need to corporate with such inquiries into assets. Sheriff inquiries may sometimes be followed by what is called a Supplemental Proceeding which is an order to appear in court and testify regarding assets. Under current SC Code, failure to appear or attempts to conceal or dispose of assets, can turn a civil issue into a criminal matter.

As this is general information on this issue, you are advised to consult personally with an attorney to receive advice and advice specific to your circumstances. I wish you well with resolving your legal issue.

No attorney-client relationship is created by this response. This information is provided for general legal information only and does not constitute advice. It does not address specific, personal issues as there is no direct contact with the questioner nor a review of any applicable documents. Responses are based on SC law, or any applicable federal law, as I am an attorney licensed only in SC. You are strongly advised to consult with an attorney in-person. The Brown Law Office, LLC is a private law firm owned and managed by Tina L. Brown, solo practitioner, and providing legal representation in the areas of bankruptcy, residential and commercial leases, education, foreclosure defense and social security disability appeals. More information can be found at


Attorney Brown answer your question completely. You probably need a bankruptcy attorney because the judgment will not go away.


You are legally required to comply with the worksheet. You did not state the amount of the debt. If large plus other debts you may wish to consider a BK, either 7 or 13.