How do you garnish a bank account in Pennsylvania? When you obtain a judgment against someone, your first question is usually, “How can I collect the money that is owed to me?”
There are a number of ways to attempt execution on a judgment, but the fastest and easiest way to do so is to garnish the debtor’s bank account (if you know where the debtor banks, that is).
• STEP 1 - File a Writ of Execution with the Prothonotary – Filing a writ of execution is not difficult. You will need to first file a “Praecipe for Writ of Execution.” This is filed with the Prothonotary (also called the “Department of Court Records” in Allegheny County) in the court located in the county where the bank, or any branches of such bank, are located. The form can be found at the following link. You will need to add on the bank’s formal name on the case caption as a “Garnishee.” Once the Praecipe for Writ of Execution is accepted for filing, the Prothonotary will issue the actual writ. The writ is your key to be able to execute.
• STEP 2 - Forward the Writ of Execution onto the Sheriff - You then need to contact the sheriff for service of the writ, which is required to be personally served to the bank. You will need to provide the following to the sheriff:
• STEP 3 - Review the Responses to the Interrogatories from the Bank – The Garnishee bank has twenty days to respond to the interrogatories. Generally, banks will respond within the required time frame. However, if you do not receive responses in twenty days, you can do one or both of the following things:
• STEP 4 - Enter Judgment Against the Garnishee Bank – As long as no exemptions were filed, you can enter judgment against the Garnishee Bank. If you are owed less than the balance in the account, you will want to enter judgment for the entire amount owed (this can include the 6% post judgment interest which accrues from the time of judgment until it is paid). If you are owed more than the balance in the account, you can enter judgment for the total balance in the account (minus any exemptions).
You can find a Praecipe to Enter Judgment form here.
Upon entering the judgment, you should receive a check from the bank in the amount you entered judgment for.
Additional Note: Remember that, in addition to any other such exemptions from collection which may exist, marital property is generally not collectible in Pennsylvania. Meaning – if you have a judgment against an individual only, but the bank account is in the individual’s name along with their spouse’s name, you will likely not be able to collect on this account.
If you have questions concerning Pennsylvania debt collection or how to garnish a bank account in Pennsylvania, please feel free to reach out to me with any questions – email@example.com.