I’ve written previously about what a person can do to collect when they’ve obtained a judgment against a person; today I’ll discuss the other side of the coin (no pun intended); namely, what you can do when someone obtains a judgment against you. Although it’s never fun to have someone trying to get money from you, if you’ve lost a case and owe someone money all is not lost.

Luckily for debtors, Nevada is one of the most debtor friendly states in the country (there’s a reason high profile debtors often claim Nevada as their home state). Although a judgment creditor can obtain money from a debtor in many different ways, there are significant areas where they cannot obtain money. For example, retirement assets (a 401(k), IRA, or pension) are generally exempt from collections up to $500,000, as is your primary residence (up to $550,000), 75 percent of your gross wages, and your primary vehicle. This means that unless you are lucky enough to have more than $500,000 in retirement assets or a home with more than $550,000 in equity, your creditors generally can’t touch them. However, for these exemptions and others, anything above the statutory exemption amount is probably going to be available to your creditors.

In addition to knowing which of your assets is exempt from collections, you need to know how to claim an exemption because they generally are not automatic. For example, in order to exempt your residence from collections, you have to record a homestead declaration with the county recorder. For other exemptions, you may be required to send your creditors a notice claiming an exemption to protect a particular asset from collection efforts.

Although it is never fun to have creditors trying to get money from you, knowing what they can and cannot collect from you allows you to think strategically and limit—lawfully—your payments to creditors.

Clifford Gravett is a local attorney with the Virgin Valley law firm of Bingham Snow & Caldwell located in Mesquite. The firm serves clients in Nevada, Arizona, and Utah (702-346-7300 / www.binghamsnow.com). Is there a topic you’d like to see discussed in a future article? E-mail him at mesquiteesq@gmail.com.