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Even if you have a judgment against you, your creditor must still try to garnish your wages or attach your property in order to collect the amount of the judgment. Not all property is available for the creditor to take. Some of your wages, money in a bank account, or other property is exempt from execution.
Chapter 21 of the Nevada Revised Statutes lists property that is exempt from execution in Nevada. NRS 21.090. Exempt income includes:
- Social Security, SSI, SSD
- Public assistance such as TANF or food stamps
- Unemployment benefits
- Disposable earnings under $362.50 per week
- $1,000 in a bank account
- Veteran’s Benefits, Railroad Retirement benefits, PERS (Public Employee’s Retirement System), or FERS (Federal Employee Retirement System), or CSRS (Civil Servant Retirement System)
- Worker’s Compensation
- Child support or alimony income
- Payments received from a wrongful death judg-ment or settlement
Exempt property includes:
- Up to $550,000 in equity in a homestead (Homesteading Your Home)
- Jewelry, musical instruments, or other keepsakes not to exceed $5,000
- Necessary household goods not to exceed $12,000
- Farm equipment, trucks, stock, tools and sup-plies not to exceed $4,500
- Tools, instruments, and materials of trade not to exceed $10,000
One vehicle with less than $15,000 in equity
You must file an affidavit of exemption with the court, within 8 days of notice of that execution or garnishment. A copy of the affidavit must be served upon the Sheriff (or Constable) and the judgment creditor. When the affidavit is served, the Sheriff (or Constable) must release the property to you within 5 days unless you or the judgment creditor files a motion for a hearing to determine whether the property is actually exempt. Unless the court continues the hearing for good cause shown, the hearing will be held within 10 days after the motion is filed.
If you do not believe you owe the debt or disagree with the amount, you need to file an Answer within 20 days of receiving the Summons and Complaint. The Answer must state why you do not owe the debt and any affirmative defenses you believe you have to the debt. If you believe the creditor or debt collection agency did something illegal in attempting to collect the debt, you may also want to file a counterclaim against the creditor or debt collector when you file your answer. If you do not file an answer or go to the hearing, the creditor can get a default judgment against you. A judgment remains in effect in Nevada for six years, and can be renewed forever.
If you do owe the debt, you can choose not to answer the complaint. A default judgment will be entered against you, but you will likely incur less attorney's fees than if you contested the Complaint. You may wish to contact the creditor or the creditor’s attorney directly in an attempt to negotiate a payment plan. They are not obligated to arrange payments, however, it may prevent further collection actions if payments are being made. Alternatively, you may wish to consider the various forms of relief available to you under the Bankruptcy Act. You may file a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy action to establish a wage-earner plan where in you pay your creditors on a reduced basis. You may also consider a discharge of all your debts by filing a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. In either of these proceedings, court actions and executions of judgments are stayed while the bankruptcy action is proceeding. You should consult a private attorney if you are considering filing for bankruptcy.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) sets out the rules collection agencies must follow. For more detailed information you can also see our page on Abusive Debt Collection Practices and How to Stop Them.
The FDCPA applies only to third party collection. It does not apply to creditors trying to collect money you owe them directly. If a debt collector is harassing you, you do have the following protections:
- If a collector contacts you about a debt, you may want to talk to them at least once to find out if you can resolve the matter. If you decide after contacting the collector that you do not want the collector to contact you again, tell the collector in writing to stop contacting you. Please click here for a sample letter requesting that the debt collector stop contacting you. Sending such a letter to a debt collector does not get rid of the debt, but it should stop the contact.
- You should not be contacted about your debt at any unusual time or place. Generally, any contact from the debt collector before 8:00 am or after 9:00 pm violates the FDCPA.
- If your employer prohibits contact from a collec-tion agency at work, once you advise the collector they must stop all communication with you at work.
- The attempts at collection cannot be threatening. The collector cannot threaten you with jail or physical harm. They also cannot threaten to tell others about your debt to embarrass you.
- If you want to dispute the debt, you can notify the collector of your dispute and request written verification of the debt. This must be done within 30 days from when you received notice of the debt. The collection agency must then verify the debt and provide you with copies of the verification.