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What to Do If Your Debtor is Judgment ProofIn most cases, receiving a court judgment against a debtor gives a creditor a clear path towards debt collection. The judgment allows you to seize assets and garnish wages until you have collected what is owed to you. However, a court may still stop your collection efforts if it determines that the debtor is “judgment proof.” Also known as “collection proof,” a judgment-proof debtor is someone who lacks the minimum income or non-exempt assets to collect from. This person could be without a job or meaningful assets and surviving on public benefits. What can you do if a debtor is judgment proof?

Understanding What Judgment-Proof Means

Federal and state laws provide exemptions for debtors who are facing debt collection or have filed for bankruptcy. In Illinois, these exemptions include:

  • A homestead exemption for as much as $15,000 of equity in the home, or $30,000 if owned by a married couple
  • Wage protection if the debtor’s weekly income after taxes is less than 45 times the Illinois minimum wage
  • Protection for public assistance, retirement benefits, injury awards, and unemployment insurance
  • An exemption for one motor vehicle whose interest is not greater than $2,400
  • A $4,000 wild card exemption that can be used on its own or combined with other exemptions

A person is deemed to be judgment proof when they have no income or assets available after these exemptions.

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Illinois Reducing Interest Rate, Revival Deadline on Consumer Debt JudgmentsIllinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is expected to sign a bill that will change the rules for collecting consumer debt after a debt judgment. The bill, which has passed both the Illinois Senate and House of Representatives, would reduce the interest rate charged to outstanding consumer debts. More significantly, the bill would cut by 10 years the amount of time that a creditor has to revive a judgment that has become dormant. Sponsors of the law tout it as a way to protect low-income Illinois consumers from cumbersome debts. Creditors of Illinois debtors may need to work faster to collect on court-ordered debt judgments.

Qualifications

There are two important caveats of the law as it applies to debtors. The changes affect debt judgments only if:

  • They involve consumer debts; and
  • The debt is $25,000 or less.

Consumer debts are debts accrued by individuals for personal, family, and household expenses. Nonconsumer debts are debts from an organization or business or debts that an individual accrues for purposes other than their personal expenses.

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