What is a Lien Amount?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A lien amount is a sum of money owed to a person who has won a judgment. To recover the funds, that individual can place a lien, essentially a hold, on an asset controlled by the subject of the judgment until the lien is paid. Liens can be levied on real estate, bank accounts, and many other types of assets. When a lien is placed on an asset, people are entitled to information about the amount of the lien, who the funds are owed to, and how to resolve the matter. Until the funds are paid in full, the hold will remain in place and the person will not be able to use the asset in question freely.

Liens can be placed on homes and cars.
Liens can be placed on homes and cars.

A common place for people to encounter information about a lien is on a bank statement. If someone owes money and a judgment is entered against the person, a lien can be placed on the debtor's bank account. The bank is required to withhold all of the funds from the customer, or to make periodic withdrawals to pay the debt in installments, depending on the size of the debt and the specifics of a court order. When a bank statement mentions a lien amount, it means someone has entered a lien against the customer's account for nonpayment of a debt.

People can also look up lien information on homes, cars, and other assets. A common source is a mortgage or car loan, where the lender uses the asset as collateral for the debt. In addition, other people can place liens on assets if a person is not repaying a debt. For example, tax authorities may place a lien on a home until someone pays back taxes, and contractors can place one on a house for nonpayment.

As long as a lien is in place on an asset, the asset cannot be transferred without authorization and the title is not clear, making it difficult to sell. Someone with an outstanding lien on property may be able to make an arrangement to sell it and pay the amount owed with the proceeds of the sale, thereby clearing the title so it can be transferred.

If someone notices that a lien has appeared on a bank account or another asset, he or she should get information about it. Sometimes, liens are applied in error, so it is important for the subject to confirm the origins of the judgment. If it has been applied inappropriately, it should be challenged as quickly as possible to get the lien off the asset. When one is applied appropriately and someone has finished paying the lien amount in full, the person should confirm that the lien has been removed, clearing the title of the asset.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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