What's on Tap? Episode Two: The Dos and Don'ts of Handling Garnishments and Levies

The second episode of our What’s on Tap? webinar series gives you valuable insights into garnishments and levies along with a local Philadelphia beer recommendation you won't want to miss. This episode featured shareholder and Philadelphia office managing attorney Michael Dougherty and attorneys Scott Best and Cameron Deane.

This episode’s beer of the day is…

Philly Phavorite IPA by Iron Hill Brewery. With an on-site brewery at each of its 20 locations, Iron Hill Brewery knows a thing or two about crafting great-tasting beers. This is one of our favorites. If you haven’t yet, check out our recorded What’s On Tap episode (and other series) in our complimentary library here.

Now, we’re sharing the top collections takeaways from episode two…

What do you do when a levy is served?

When the court issues and the sheriff serves an order of garnishment or levy upon your bank or credit union, you should immediately stop, hold, and investigate. 

What does immediately mean? While the courts dictate the timeline, it is generally right now. Do not pass “go," just freeze the funds. What happens if the sheriff gives the order to a teller who then simply places it on a desk to deal with later? Watch the webinar to find out.

Once the account is frozen, you’ll want to determine the account type to ensure you can actually freeze those funds. In PA, for instance, certain funds may be exempt, one example being an entireties (husband and wife) account. Also, not all funds that an institution holds are eligible for garnishment (think Federal funds). You need to look for and identify potential exemptions that might apply. 

If there’s one thing we want you to take away from this episode, it’s the handout on garnishments from the Bureau of Fiscal Service, US Department of Treasury. If an institution doesn’t follow the guidance, the consequences can be severe — you can actually be sued and become liable — so you’ll want to watch here to ensure you know exactly how to respond. 

Do you need to notify the account holder? Not necessarily, although we recommend you do. It’s a good idea to notify them after the hold has been in place. 

In New Jersey, the same concepts apply, but it is slightly different. Learn those nuances here.

Questions from webinar attendees:

Is it possible to extend the time to respond to a garnishment?
Lots of talk about how essential it is to respond in a timely manner. The best way can be to simply reach out to the party issuing the garnishment notice and ask. If necessary, you can also file a motion with the court, but know there are costs associated with doing so.

What happens if while an account is on hold, another deposit comes into the account? Are those funds now subject to the hold?
Excellent question! These are some tricky situations. Watch for how to handle them.

What do I do when an account is opened as a joint but not marital, but I know the members are married?
It doesn’t really matter what the bank manager knows. You can work with attorneys on the other side to discuss the file further. You never want to assume. That’s the safest way to go. For a real-life example, check out the webinar.

Back to the beer

Remember that each episode of What’s On Tap? will highlight a “beer of the day.” Each episode is based on the questions you want answered. When you submit your questions, you’re in the running to receive commemorative What’s On Tap? swag and local Philly brewery gift cards! 
If you have any questions or need further clarification about the content discussed in the webinar related to specific states or jurisdictions, connect with Mike, Scott, and/or Cameron at any time for the most up-to-date and accurate information.

This blog is not a solicitation for business and it is not intended to constitute legal advice on specific matters, create an attorney-client relationship or be legally binding in any way.

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Michael J. Dougherty


Cameron W. Deane


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