All of the attorneys at Jennings, Jennings & Fishman have experience obtaining and collecting civil money judgments. We have expertise in locating debtors and their hidden assets. We know the ins and outs of obtaining attachments of real estate, accounts receivable, bank accounts and wages. We have succeeded in collecting money from debtors after many others have tried and failed.

How easy is it to attach a debtor’s assets?
Well, it depends on the circumstances in each case. It is certainly easier if your debt has already been reduced to Judgment. It also helps to demonstrate that debtor’s conduct in the past indicates attempts to move assets to avoid paying the debt or was otherwise fraudulent. Generally, the better the information that you have on the debtor and the debtors assets, the easier it will be to attach assets in order to satisfy your Judgment.

How can I collect if the debtor hid his assets by putting his assets in someone else’s name?
Transfers or conveyances that are made to “insiders” in order to defraud creditors are sometimes referred to as fraudulent transfers. Massachusetts adopted the Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act (UFTA) in 1996, repealing the prior Massachusetts Fraudulent Conveyance Act (MFCA). This law can be used to reach assets that are transfered to others in order to avoid paying your debt.

In April of 2006, we obtained a Judgment which “pierced the corporate veil” of one company in order to reach the assets of another company. You can read the decision here. The Court determined that the debtor corporation was being used by the corporate officer to defraud creditors. Under these unique circumstances, the court can use its equitable powers to reach the assets of other corporations or indidivuals.

What if the debtor transferred his assets a long time ago?
The UFTA has four-year Statute of Limitations upon actions alleging transfers made with the intent to hinder delay or defraud creditors (or within one year from the time the creditor could reasonably have discovered the transfer.) Under prior law, the MFCA had a Statute of Limitations, the length for which varied, depending on the type of underlying action (i.e.contract–six years, tort–three years). Therefore, under prior law, a creditor holding a Judgment would have had twenty years to bring a claim under the MFCA. (There is twenty-year statute of limitation on actions to enforce a Judgment). So, unless your Judgment was entered prior to the enactment of the UFTA in 1996, at most, you have four years to sue insiders for hidden assets. The good news is that the UFTA is a bit more comprehensive in its definition of fraudulent transfers. Also, the UFTA has been adopted in many states, and consequently, its provisions have been thoroughly tested.

An action to “pierce the corporate veil” has no limitations period.

What if I can’t locate the debtor?
We have had great success locating debtors. We have access to computer databases which are not available to the public at large.

What if the debtor files bankruptcy?
You may not have known this but…bankruptcy discharges the debtor not the debt. If a debtor has conveyed his assets to someone else in order to avoid paying the debt, that person could be liable to a creditor for payment of the debt. We have collected judgments by pursuing wives, parents, siblings, children, trustees and friends that receive gifts or payments from the debtor, in advance of a bankruptcy.

How does my attorney get paid?
Again, it depends. Most people would prefer to pay on a contingency basis, that is to say, we collect a fee from you only if we get your money from the debtor. The percentage that we charge depends on the complexity of the case and the strength of the case. The contingency can be as little as 20% and as much as 50% of the gross amount collected. We can also structure a fee agreement that varies depending on how far along your case proceeds. If you provide us the details of your case, we will fully evaluate the case and reach a fee agreement with you, in advance.

Can’t I just do it myself?
Well, sure. You can do your own dental work too, but we wouldn’t advise it. Seriously though, there are many advantages to hiring an experienced and professional law firm to collect your debt. We know the applicable laws, we know the court system, and we know the debtors and their methods.

If you are a judgment creditor and need help collecting, email Ray Jennings for more information or call 781-337-4221.