A levy is a legal order requiring a third party, usually your bank, to remove money from your account and turn it over to the judgment creditor or collection agency that has the judgment against you. To remove the levy, you must either pay the bill in full or show that the funds in the account are exempt.
Levy is the process of seizing a judgment debtor’s property to pay the judgment debt. In Florida, the sheriff’s department levies the property. The sheriff’s department sells the levied property in order to pay the creditor.
What types of property can and cannot be levied by the sheriff?
The sheriff’s department can seize:
- Personal property: movable things (e.g., cars, horses, boats, furniture, jewelry) owned by the debtor.
- Real property: land and buildings owned by the debtor.
- Exemptions: An individual may choose to exempt one motor vehicle worth $1,000 or less; and one additional personal property item worth $1,000 or less. Corporations and partnerships do not have any exemptions.
The sheriff’s department cannot seize:
- An individual’s home or homestead.
- Any property that is leased or rented by the judgment debtor.
How do I get the sheriff to levy personal property?
- Locate the property.
- The property must be located in Florida.
- The sheriff’s department will not locate the property for you.
- Return to the Clerk of the Court that originally issued your judgment and ask for a Writ of Execution.
- Deliver the Writ to the sheriff’s department for the county where the debtor’s property is located.
- Provide the sheriff’s department with:
- A deposit to cover their fees and costs.
- Your written Instructions for Levy:
- Describing the property; and
- Telling the sheriff’s office where the property is located.
What happens once the personal property is levied?
- The sheriff’s department will sell the property at a public auction.
- The property will be sold to the highest bidder for cash in hand.
- You may bid on the property.
- For the sheriff’s department to sell the property, you must:
- Search court records by the judgment debtor’s name for other judgment liens filed under that name.
- Search UCC records by the judgment debtor’s name for creditors that have filed UCC security interests under that name.
- Notify all creditors found (if any) of the date, time and place of the sale.
- Provide the sheriff’s department with a signed affidavit containing the information you found in your search for any judgment lien certificates against the debtor.
- Advertise the sale in a local newspaper once all notices have been sent.
If the levied personal property is sold, how is the money distributed?
The sheriff’s department will distribute the money in the following order:
- The sheriff’s department will deduct their costs.
- If the property sale covers those costs, you will get your deposit back.
- The sheriff pays you $500 for your costs, regardless of the amount you actually spent.
- If anyone else obtained a judgment lien against the debtor, the sheriff’s office will pay all of the creditors in the order their judgment liens were filed.
- If the sheriff’s department disburses all of the money before getting to you, you will not receive any payment.
- If there are no other judgment liens against the debtor, you will be paid first.
- Remaining funds will be returned to the debtor.