How Do I Get Money From the Defendant's Bank Account?

How Do I Get Money From the Defendant's Bank Account?

Last updated: September 2012

Attaching A Bank Account

You may know where a defendant banks. If you do, you might be able to collect money from the defendant's bank accounts. You can do this in one of two ways. You can file a Citation to Discover Assets to a Third Party or a Non-Wage Garnishment. The Citation to Discover Assets to a Third Party lasts longer than a Non-Wage Garnishment. Because it lasts longer, it is a more powerful tool. You are only allowed to file one Citation to Discover Assets to a Third Party. You can only file one Citation to Discover Assets to a Third Party for each bank. If you have already filed one against a bank, you must use a Non-Wage Garnishment on your second attempt to collect from the bank.

Citation To Discover Assets To A Third Party

You must prepare all of the forms necessary for a Citation to Discover Assets to a Third Party. Click on the title below to go to a program that will help you prepare the necessary forms.

Cook County Judgment Collection Program

Pick a return date and complete the interview. A return date is a date when the judge can hear the citation case. This date must be at least 21 days after you send the notice and not more than 40 days after you send the notice. Citations can be set for any weekday at 9:30 am in Courtroom 1401. You must bring the form to the Clerk of the Circuit Court in Room 602 of the Daley Center. Pay the fee and the Clerk of the Circuit Court will issue the form. The form then must be served on the defendant's bank. It can be served in one of three ways:

  • The sheriff can serve the forms (bring the forms to Room 701 and pay the service fee)
  • A licensed private detective can serve the forms
  • You can serve the forms by sending them by certified or registered mail with a return receipt

You must mail a copy of the citation and Citation Notice to the defendant within 3 days of when the bank is served. You should complete the part of the Citation Notice that says when you mailed it to the defendant. File the Citation Notice with the Clerk of the Circuit Court in Room 602 of the Daley Center.

The Citation to Discover Assets to a Third Party forces the bank to freeze the money in the defendant’s account. This means the defendant cannot use the money in the account. The bank must freeze the money on the day that the bank is served with the summons. The bank must freeze any new money that comes into the defendant's account up until the return date. The bank must fill out the answer form to tell how much money the bank froze. The bank must mail that completed form to you.

If the bank states that the defendant has money in the account, you must go to Courtroom 1401 at 9:30 am on the return date. Check in with the clerk. You will have to prepare an Order to Turnover Funds for the judge to enter. This form is available in the courtroom. If you do not go to court, the freeze will end and you will not get any money from the bank. You must fax or mail the Order to Turnover Funds to the bank after the judge signs it.

Non-Wage Garnishment

You must complete all of the necessary forms for a Non-Wage Garnishment. The necessary forms are available in Room 601 of the Daley Center. You must complete the forms listed below:

  • Garnishment Summons (Non-Wage)
  • Garnishment (Non-Wage) Notice
  • Affidavit for Garnishment (Non-Wage)
  • Certificate of Mailing Garnishment (Non-Wage)

You must complete the first three forms first. Pick a return date. A return date is a date when the judge can hear the non-wage garnishment case. This date must be at least 21 days after you send the notice and not more than 40 days after you send the notice. The return date can be any weekday at 9:30 am in Courtroom 1401. You need to bring the completed forms to the Clerk of the Circuit Court in Room 602 of the Daley Center. Pay the Clerk of the Circuit Court the required fee and they will issue the form. You need to serve these forms on the defendant's bank after they have been issued. They can be served in one of two ways:

  • The sheriff can serve the forms (bring the forms to Room 701 and pay the service fee)
  • A licensed private detective can serve the forms

You must mail a copy of the first three documents to the defendant at the defendant’s last known address. Within two business days after that, you must complete the Certificate of Mailing Garnishment (Non-Wage) and file it with the Clerk of the Circuit Court in Room 602.

The bank must freeze the money in the defendant's account on the day the bank receives the summons. The bank must answer the questions on the form. The answers tell how much money the bank froze. The bank must mail the completed forms to you.

You need to go to court on the return date if the bank says the defendant has money in his/her account. You need to go to Courtroom 1401 at 9:30 am on the return date. You need to prepare an Order to Turnover Funds for the judge to enter. This form is available in the courtroom. If you do not go to court, the non-wage garnishment will end. You must fax or mail the Order to Turnover Funds after the judge signs it.

Exemptions

The law protects some of the defendant's assets from collection. Assets are the defendant's money or property. This protection is called an exemption. The defendant can come to court and claim certain exemptions. If the judge accepts the claims, you cannot collect from the exempt property. The defendant can claim an exemption on the following assets:

  • Social Security and SSI benefits;
  • Welfare benefits (including TANF, AABD, and General Assistance);
  • Workers Compensation awards;
  • Unemployment Compensation awards;
  • Veterans benefits;
  • Certain alimony, support, and maintenance payments;
  • Certain pension and retirement benefits;
  • Up to $7,500 that the defendant received because he/she was injured;
  • Up to $4,000 of equity value (value of property - what the defendant owes on property) of personal property, the defendant can choose anything with this exemption and it can include money in bank accounts;
  • Up to $2,400 of equity value (value of car - what the defendant owes on the car) of any one car;
  • Up to $15,000 of equity value (value of home - what the defendant owes on the home) in home, this is called the Homestead Exemption, it can only be used on the place where the defendant lives, married couples can double their Homestead Exemption up to $30,000 if they both own and live in the home, the exemption does not apply when the home is being sold because the defendant did not pay taxes, the exemption does not apply if the debt is because of home improvements, the exemption does not apply if the suit is because of a lien under the Condominium Property Act;
  • Up to $1,500 of equity value (value of tools - what the defendant owes on the tools) in tools the defendant needs for his/her job or professional books or implements;
  • An award to a child whose parent has died if the child is not living with the surviving parent;
  • Any money paid to the defendant from a life insurance policy and the cash value of any life insurance policy or annuity which will be paid to a dependent of the person insured;
  • Any money a defendant may receive under the Illinois Crime Victims Compensation Act;
  • Any money a defendant is paid because of the wrongful death of someone who provided support for the defendant;
  • Uniforms, arms, and equipment of every member of the National Guard;
  • A partner's right in partnership property is not subject to attachment or execution, except where the claim is against the partnership.

If the defendant only has assets within these exemptions and the defendant claims all of the exemptions, the defendant cannot be ordered to pay. If the defendant's assets are more than these exemptions, the defendant can pay. This means the defendant may be forced to sell property and pay you or be forced to give you property that has value to pay you. The defendant also can voluntarily pay you from exempt assets. If the defendant volunteers to pay from exempt assets, the judge will usually enforce the agreement.

 

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