How can we track down a lien on this property?


Q. My niece sold her home last year. She had some outstanding debt which was discovered during the title search, so at closing money was held in escrow to pay the debt. All was paid except for one, from a 2005 judgment lien through Ocean County Court. The attorney who was in charge is out of business. How can we track this down? The money is still being held in escrow, so my niece has not had her debt cleared and the buyers still do not have clear title.
— Helpful aunt

A. Old debts can come back to haunt you.

We’re glad your niece is trying to make this right.

A judgment lien can be attached to a person’s real estate, such as a house, condo, land or similar kind of property interest, said Karra Kingston, a bankruptcy attorney in Union City.

She said there are two courts in New Jersey where claims can be brought.

In New Jersey’s Law Division, a judgment lien is created automatically on a person’s property located in the state, she said.

“If your claim is for $15,000 or less, it needs to be brought in New Jersey’s Special Civil Part, and the creditor must have the judgment docketed in the Law Division first,” she said.

If you can’t locate the attorneys, perhaps you can locate the original creditor who put the lien on the property. Your attorney should be able to tell you who to contact, Kingston said.

“If you still can’t find out any information about the creditor or the company that put the lien on the property, then you may need to get in touch with the court,” she said.

Good luck.

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This story was originally published on March 10, 2020. presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.