If you’ve had a judgment lien placed against your home, or other real estate or personal property, you now cannot sell or refinance it without paying the lien or having it removed. This can cause serious issues and needs to be remedied.
There are some usual ways to solve this vexing issue, such as:
- Contact the creditor that filed the lien and try to come to a deal with them directly.
- Make payment arrangements with the creditor if you cannot pay in full.
- Simply pay the lien amount in full.
- Request a satisfaction of the lien, if you have paid it off, or you feel it’s in error.
- File the satisfaction of lien with the courts as soon as you receive it.
The above ways can certainly be used, but usually, you may not be able to financially do them, or the situation is not as simple as it may appear. Many times, and for many legal reasons, it is in your best interests to consult with a Plymouth, New Bedford, or Hyannis lien release lawyer to provide you with the professional advice you need.
These judgment liens do have a statute of limitations in Massachusetts but are up to 20 years on any real estate with an extension permitted for another 5 years. So even though you may not want to sell the property now, this is a problem you want to solve way before you do.
Also, your creditor may agree to settle the judgment for less than you owe, but usually under certain circumstances. For example, this may occur when your creditor thinks you might file bankruptcy and wipe the debt out entirely. Discussion and settling the debt with you may be a win-win, as the creditor gets at least partial payment for the debt. Once again, a Braintree or Taunton Lien release lawyer will be invaluable in negotiating terms with anyone (or any agency) that may be responsible for the judgment lien.
What Types of Liens are There in Massachusetts?
When you usually think of liens, tax liens usually come to mind first. However, there are other types of liens you may have to deal with. Property (real estate), child support, cars, and more can be subjected to a lien. Simply put, a lien is a claim on something you own as a security against a debt you owe.
There are essentially three different types of liens in Massachusetts, they are:
- Statutory Lien – All statutory liens most always result from state and federal laws. They usually happen automatically and are always considered involuntary liens.
- Tax Lien – A tax lien can be placed against your property (and other things) if you owe back taxes to the IRS, and they decide to lien your property to collect it. This isn’t always a result of unpaid federal income taxes, as you can also have a lien placed against you because of unpaid property or estate taxes. This is a common means by which the government gets their money if you don’t pay your outstanding tax debt. In this type of case, it is almost always in your best interest to retain a lien release lawyer to negotiate for you. These cases can be catastrophic to your finances, and you need all the professional advice you can obtain.
- Mechanic’s liens–If a contractor or mechanic works on the property, and you fail to pay them, they can place a mechanic’s lien against your property. This is also referred to as a “construction lien” and occurs when a contractor isn’t paid for the work they’ve been contracted to do and completed on your home or property. The buyer or seller of the home may not be able to complete the transaction until their obligations on this type of lien have been fulfilled.
There are other types but any judgment lien against you can be distressing, and worse, cost you thousands of dollars. Always make sure you receive the best professional help you need, and you may be able to mitigate the lien, or even have it removed.
When Should I Avoid a Judgement Lien?
Always use lien avoidance if you and your lawyer find that it’s available, especially if the lien can be wiped out. Even if you don’t need or wish to keep the property, you can avoid the lien, sell the property, and use the money for other things.
Keeping it simple, you may want to avoid liens only on property that may be completely exempt. The lien may then be eliminated, and you’ll own the property free and clear, without paying anything to the creditor. Once again, your experienced Massachusetts lien release lawyer will know if this option could work for you.
Even partial lien avoidance can be beneficial, but sooner or later you’ll end up having to pay the amount remaining on the lien. Usually, you may have to pay off the lien in a lump sum, but some creditors still may be willing to accept installments (or get paid at the closing of the transaction directly), especially if you compromise on the value of the lien.
Can I Avoid a Judgment Lien in My Bankruptcy?
You, and your lien release lawyer, can request lien avoidance by checking the column “Property is claimed as exempt” on your Statement of Intention, and by filing the proper motion with the court.
As a bankruptcy filer, you may not even realize the liens on your property, or (more importantly) don’t realize that you could eliminate these liens! You may have more options than you expect, but these cases can be legally complex.
Fortunately, Massachusetts bankruptcy courts are commonly liberal about allowing a debtor to reopen a case to file a motion to avoid a lien. This can help you immensely, but only by your lawyer obtaining all the details of your case, can they help you the most.
I Have a Judgment Lien to Fight in Massachusetts, What Should I Do First?
Due to the legal complexities of these cases, and all the options you may have, most certainly don’t fight them alone. The Massachusetts firm of Benner & Weinkauf, P.C. are skilled and have decades of experience helping clients successfully eliminating liens and saving them extreme stress and money. Consult with them first and get the options you need to solve your judgment lien problem.