What to do if someone owes me money and refuses to pay it?

I would like to sue him for it or do whatever I can. I don’t know what to do. He may inherit money one day but another lawyer told me his parents can write a type of Will that will stop his creditors from getting it. I’d like to know if there is way to collect the money in this case.

Asked on August 12, 2012 under Bankruptcy Law, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If he owns any property or has any income, you could potentially collect the money by either putting a lien on the property or garnishing his wages. You should sue him--for amounts under, say, $3,000, you may wish to file the suit yourself in small claims court (acting as your own attorney); for larger amounts, you should probably get a lawyer. Once you file a suit, he may pay, or at least offer to settle for some amount; if not, if you win the lawsuit, he may pay (or offer to settle) at that point; if he doesn't, you may be able to collect by garnishing wages or putting a lien on property (or if you know where he banks, you can levy on his bank account; or if he owns valuable personal property, like jewlery, art, vehicles, big screen TVs, etc., it may be possible to have the sheriff seize those and sell them for your benefit). Worst case, even if you can't collect immediately, a judgment can potentially be enforced for years to come--such as if he does inherit money.

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