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Collecting A Debt in Massachusetts
By Attorney Chesley Oriel
Many times its a lot easier to obtain a Judgment than to collect on it. Unfortunately too many creditors find out after much time and expense that the debt they have sought to collect is not an easy task. However, had they been better prepared, they may have made it alot easier and have given their Lawyer a better chance of collecting the money that is owed.
Learn more at the Framingham debt collections attorneys.
When a Lawyer files suit to collect a debt, it always gives the Plaintiff (creditor) the advantage if the Lawyer can obtain either a bank account attachment, a real estate attachment, or some other “pre-judgment” attachment that will assure the Plaintiff (creditor) that if a Judgment is entered in their favor, that there is some asset to levy (seize) upon to satisfy the Judgment. Therefore, it is always important to make copies of checks that are received from businesses you are dealing with. A copy of the check can be given to your Lawyer, and depending upon the State you are in, the Lawyer may be able to obtain a Court ordered attachment of the bank account. If the Debtor owns real estate, the Court may be able to order an attachment of the real estate.
In some States, such as Massachusetts, the Court can order the “Appointment” of a Keeper. This is an extremely effective tactic, especially if the business that owes you money is a business that takes in “cash”, such as a restaurant. The Keeper actually has the right to take (receive) all the cash that comes into the business during his/her presence, up to the amount ordered by the Court. For example, if a restaurant owes an equipment supplier $20,000 for equipment sold and delivered to the restaurant, which refuses for unjustified reasons to pay the bill, then the supplier’s Lawyer should seek to have a Keeper appointed. Lawyers who are familar with the practice, if they are able to persuade a Judge to allow the appointment of a Keeper, will then place the Keeper in the restaurant on a Friday night, which means that either the restaurant owner agrees to keep the restaurant open during the weekend, or close it, rather than allow the Keeper to get the money. Keep in mind that Courts are usually closed during the weekend, so the restaurant’s Lawyer could not get before a Judge until Monday to try and get the Keeper appointment dissolved. Many times, by just placing the Keeper in the business, the claim will get resolved.
So, obviously the most important aspect of pursuing a “debt” is collecting it. Many Lawyers will accept “collection” cases on a contingent fee basis; meaning that they get paid only if they get money for the client. Depending on the nature of the collection and the chances of success, sometimes it becomes worth while for a Lawyer to accept a collection case on a part “fee” and part “contingent fee” basis. What that means is that the client pays either a reduced hourly rate fee, plus a percentage of any amount collected, or a noncontingent suit fee (an agreed upon figure) plus a percentage of what is collected.
The more information you have on the debtor, the easier it will be for the Lawyer to determine what the likelihood will be to collect the debt.
Unfortunately too many people take the position that the last thing they want to do is to pay a Lawyer a fee, so they wait and wait, hoping that the debtor will pay. Because they may have waited too long, there may not be anything for the Lawyer to collect. Chances are that if a “debtor” owes you money, that they also owe “others” money too. So the creditor who takes an aggressive collection position, may be the only one who collects anything. Therefore, once a debtor has ignored a few letters or phone calls, its probably time to call a collection Lawyer. Remember, that something is better than nothing.
Our Boston Metrowest collection attorneys provide legal services throughout Massachusetts.