Beginning in April 2010, and continuing every 3rd year, the judicial conference shall adjust amounts that are exempt from execution.[i] This adjustment is based on the consumer price index for all urban consumers or other comparable lists.[ii] The adjustments include, but are not limited to, exemptions for vehicles, jewelry, wages, and bank attachments. In 2013, this amount for bank attachments was adjusted from $425.00 to $450.00. This means that a judgment debtor must have at least $451.00 in her/his/its bank account in order for the judgment creditor to receive any funds from the bank attachment. The judgment creditor will only receive amounts greater than $450.00. For example, if the judgment debtor has an account balance of $451.00, the judgment creditor will receive $1.00 on a bank attachment.
In addition to the dollar limitation, Ohio law prevents judgment creditors from attaching funds received from Social Security Retirement or Disability, workers’ compensation, unemployment benefits, or pensions, amongst other types of income.[iii] It is the burden of the bank to determine if the funds are exempt[iv]; however, not all banks fulfill this burden. If a judgment debtor claims that exempt funds have been attached, the judgment creditor should ask for verification (e.g., request a copy of several months of bank statements). If the funds are exempt, the judgment creditor should act quickly to release or return the funds to the judgment debtor.
With increasing exemption amounts and court costs, it behooves judgment creditors to diligently research prior to filing an execution. Sending a subpoena to determine the value of an asset is a critical cost savings tool. A judgment creditor may also send post judgment discovery requests, including interrogatories, to help identify assets held by a judgment debtor. The upward adjusted exemption amounts may result in a longer time frame to collect some debts but should not prevent full recovery for the judgment creditor over time.