One of the hardest lessons to learn in litigation is that obtaining a judgment against an opposing party by no means guarantees that your client will be paid. Unless the opposing party has the cash on hand (and a willingness to pay) or an insurance policy covering the claim, you will need to obtain a writ of execution from the court and then have your local constable attempt to seize the party’s assets to pay for the judgment.
When it comes to individuals in Texas, finding those assets can be difficult. Texas Property Code section 42.001 exempts from collection the following items personal property items, up to an aggregate fair market value of $50,000.00 for a single adult and $100,000 aggregate fair market value for a family:
1. Home furnishings, including family heirlooms;
2. Provisions for consumption;
3. Farming or ranching vehicles and implements;
4. Tools, equipment, books, and apparatus, including boats and motor vehicles used in a trade or profession;
6. Jewelry up to and including a total value of $7,500 for a single adult and $15,000 for a married adult;
7. Two firearms;
8. Athletic and sporting equipment, including bicycles;
9. A two-wheeled, three-wheeled, or four-wheeled motor vehicle for each member of a family or single adult who holds a driver’s license or who does not hold a driver’s license but who relies on another person to operate the vehicle for the benefit of the non-licensed person;
10. The following animals and forage on the hand for their consumption: (a) two horses, mules, or donkeys, and a saddle, blanket, and bridle for each; (b) twelve head of cattle; (c) sixty head of other types of livestock; and (d) 120 fowl;
11. Household pets.
If the debtor has property that exceeds the available aggregate limits, the debtor may select items to levy or for their seizure to pay a judgment creditor. Otherwise, the creditor is out of luck when it comes to seizing personal property assets to satisfy a judgment.