Can only one plaintiff sign?

August 9, 2023


Q. When I won my judgment, I was one of two plaintiffs. Now the other plaintiff is gone, and I can’t find them. Can I alone, assign my judgment to a judgment enforcer?

A: We are not lawyers. Our opinion is that when there is more than one plaintiffs on a judgment, all the plaintiffs need to sign the required assignment of judgment form (at a notary, see our Notary article). Notarization of all plaintiff signatures is required, to assign a judgment to a judgment enforcer – or to sign an agreement with a collections attorney or agency.

However, if the other creditor plaintiff died, and you or someone else are the executor of their estate, the Executor can sign the paperwork (at a notary) as Person (Executor’s name), Executor for Person (dead person’s name). It is a good idea to also provide a copy of the death certificate.

Note, if an attorney is retained to recover your judgment, your attorney can retain the non-client’s funds, and then attempt to locate the other plaintiffs. Usually, the lawyer cannot take their attorney’s contingency fee out of the non-client’s share of recovered funds.

In most states, there is an “unclaimed funds” system set up with the secretary of state. If the other plaintiffs cannot be located, lawyers often submit the non-client’s funds to the secretary of state’s unclaimed funds system, and later try to locate the missing plaintiff(s).

Only if the judgment specifies an apportionment of the judgment, for example plaintiff A is owed $70k, and plaintiff B is owed $30k; it usually means there is a 50/50 ownership of the judgment.

What if your judgment debtor has assets within a State’s unclaimed state treasury fund system? Every year, more and more states are passing laws to prevent anyone but the originally named person to be paid anything, and only if that person files a claim.

Be aware of scammers – advertising to locate unclaimed assets, and then try to get a fee to let the person know they found an unclaimed asset in their name.

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