When a Claim of Lien is Filed Against an Estate

New York law allows for a creditor to attach a debt collection order to an estate with a claim of lien. A judgment lien is a court ordered sale of real and personal property part of an estate such as antiques, art, jewelry, and other tangible valuables. A licensed attorney at law specializing in estate law and advise an executor or trustee of New York statutory rules of “Estates, Powers, and Trusts” pertaining to an estate that has been attached with a lien.

Notice of Lien Procedure

New York Laws CVP – Civil Practice Law & Rules, Article 52: Enforcement of Money Judgements §5202 and §5203 outlines statutory rules to lien procedure. A Claim of Lien must be filed with the Office of the Clerk in the county where the property is located four months after the work is completed or the materials supplied.


Claim of lien on other properties is subject to an eight-month statute of limitations for filing. Once the lien is attached, the estate must be served with a Notice of Lien within thirty days, with filing of an affidavit of service with the county clerk within thirty-five days. Liens are in effect for one year in New York but can be renewed on expiration.


Involuntary” vs. Voluntary Liens

“Condo/Co-op Dues and Maintenance/Homeowner Fees” liens, “Mechanic’s and Materialmen’s” liens, and “Tax” liens all fall under the category of “involuntary” lien within New York law. Mortgage liens are “voluntary” liens on real property that can be removed if the debt is fully paid.


With exception of tax liens which remain valid until paid, most liens last for ten years or until the debt has been satisfied. In the case of estate held property, a claim of lien will force those assets into a probate proceeding. A substantial loss in the value of transferred assets intended for named beneficiaries may be the result.  


Businesses involved in public works or infrastructure projects on state, county, municipal property are exempt from claim of liens, however, a claim against a general contractor’s bond may be filed by another contractor, subcontractor or supplier. As with a claim of lien, a bond claim can be filed with appropriate notice of the party who posted the bond.


Creditor Attachment and Collections

Collection from a judgment lien is subject to restrictions under New York law, which exempts a debtor from any financial encumbrance inhibiting a normal quality of life (N.Y. C.P.L.R. §§ 5201 – 5253). Generally, the property exempted from creditor attachment is the one listed as the debtor’s primary residence. Creditor collection on a lien attached, estate held property can also be encumbered by existing liens, foreclosure or bankruptcy proceedings.

New York Estate Law Attorney

A lien is an enforceable creditor attachment that can interfere with estate asset transfer to heirs and beneficiaries at the time of a decedent’s death without the assistance of an experienced attorney. Ettinger Law Firm is a licensed New York attorney practice specializing in estate law and probate litigation. Contact Ettinger Law Firm for a consultation about an estate law matter involving a creditor claim of lien.   


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Consequences of Decedent Debt in a Probate Matter

How ERISA Rules Protect your Estate from Attachment

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