Debtor Exam Turnover Orders

August 10, 2023


I am not a lawyer, I am a judgment broker. This article is my opinion, based on my experience in California, and laws vary in each state. If you ever need legal advice or a legal strategy to use, please contact a lawyer.

This article is about using one specific type of turnover (turn over) order that can be used (in many states) at the conclusion of judgment debtor examinations. A turnover order may possibly get the creditor paid from cash, or the equivalent of cash, that the debtor owns and possesses while at the court.

Turnover orders for cash at judgment debtor exams, are cheap and easy. They are requests to the court, for them to order a judgment debtor to turn over their non-exempt cash to you, to help satisfy your money judgment.

At the end of this article, is a template example of this kind of turnover order for cash at a judgment debtor exam. One brings several copies of a nearly-completed turnover order to the court, to use at or near the conclusion of the debtor examination.

Before a debtor examination turnover order is planned, one should have a writ of execution from the court. They are not a pre-requisite for granting a turnover order, but they are a pre-requisite for the Sheriff to actually carry out thier duties on the turnover order.

Not all states allow turn over orders. In California, simple cash turnover orders are supported by CCPs 482.080 and 708.205. When used immediately after a judgment debtor examination (best still inside the courtroom), one does not have to serve the judgment debtor, or pay for a new hearing. Some legal cites for this are IMPERIAL BANK v. PIM ELECTRIC, INC., 33 Cal. App. 4th 540; 39 Cal. Rptr. 2d 432, and McCullough v. Clark, 41 Cal. 298.

Turnover orders do not order the judgment debtor to turn over physical property (unless the property is cash or some other negotiable instrument, I have had a judge once order my debtor to write me a check for example, but you cannot count on your judge doing that!), the property is to go to the Sheriff, and once in the hands of the Sheriff, the property is then processed the same as if it was levied upon.

Usually, with turnover orders, the Sheriff does the levy, and the judgment debtor delivers the property to the Sheriff, at which time the Sheriff levies on it. A notice of levy is prepared, and exemption documentation goes to the debtor, same as any other levy. Therefore, you will need a writ of execution, because the Sheriff will not take the property into its custody if you do not have one.

Look up the laws of your state, and print out any laws relevant to judgment debtors turning over property to you or the levying officer after an examination. Be ready to refer to your local laws, and to possibly quote them in court.

Experienced judgment debtors know better than to bring large amounts of cash to debtor exams, however some do, so be prepared.

To levy anything other than cash, requires a current writ of execution and an open Sheriff levy file. And while turnovers of cash may not require a writ, or to have a Sheriff levy file open, do it anyway and cover all your bases. You never know what judge will demand this, and what you might later discover. Non-cash assets must always be turned over to the Sheriff first. Have your writ ready with a Sheriff instruction letter, specifying that the Sheriff will be receiving the debtor’s property via a turnover order, and provide a copy of the turnover order.

At the conclusion of a judgment debtor examination, you can ask the judgment debtor how much cash they have in their wallet, pockets, briefcase, or purse. If the debtor complies, write the amount down. If they refuse, that is ok. At the end of the exam, politely mention to the bailiff that you want to ask the judge to consider a quick matter.

If the judgment debtor showed you the cash in their wallet, write that amount down on your turnover order. Then, politely ask the judge to sign your turnover order. The general rule is non-cash assets are turned over to the Sheriff, cash can be turned over to you. Write the amount as part of the turnover order, so that it becomes part of the court file.

If the debtor refuses to tell you how much cash they have, say something like “Your honor, I have asked the judgment debtor to disclose the contents of their wallet. They have refused, and per the laws of our State (recite the numbers of the laws, not the laws themselves) the debtor should be required to disclose to the court what is in their wallet, so I may ask the court to sign my turnover order.”

What happens next cannot be predicted. Sometimes the debtor complies immediately, sometimes they make up stories and lies, for example, their cash belongs to someone else, etc.

It is usually best to show the court you are reasonable, and compromise when appropriate. Usually, the judge will order the judgment debtor to give their cash to the bailiff, and then the bailiff hands it over to you.

Here is an example of a turnover order I have used for the debtor’s on-hand cash, at the conclusion of a debtor examination:

Your Name (your capacity – Assignee Of Record or Judgment Creditor)
Your Address
Your City, State, Zip
Your Phone Number and Email

Appearing In Pro Per

COUNTY OF (YOUR COUNTY), YOUR DIVISION (small claims, civil, etc.)

Paul Plaintiff           Case # 123456789
                                TURNOVER ORDER; POINTS and AUTHORITIES
                                Date: July 18, 2014
Dan Defendant       Time: 9 AM
                                Department 12
                                Judge: John Jones

At the date and time above, DAN DEFENDANT, the judgment debtor and defendant herein, was examined. At the conclusion of the examination, the judgment debtor was in possession of cash in the amount of (list the cash amount) that may be used to help satisfy the judgment debt as per CCPs 482.080 and 708.25.

Pursuant with the Declarations and Points And Authorities submitted by (plaintiff/assignee of record), and finding that a writ of execution has been issued, and there is a need for this order, for good cause, the court hereby ORDERS that the non-exempt property listed above, be turned over to the (plaintiff/assignee of record) which shall be applied toward the satisfaction of the judgment.

 Dated: ____________ Signed _______________________________________

Judge Of the Superior Court    POINTS AND AUTHORITIES

Copy, and include the full text of CCP 482.080 and 708.205 here.

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