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  • Writer's pictureT. Maxwell Smith, PLLC

Texas Writ of Sequestration: Enlisting the Court’s Help in Returning Lost Property

Co-authored by: Tanner Wadsworth, rising 2L at Columbia Law School

This blog is not to be considered legal advice. It refers specifically to issues regarding the law of the State of Texas at the time it was written and it is not guaranteed to be an exhaustive outline of Writ of Sequestration law in Texas.

Picture this: you own a used car dealership in a small North Texas town. Your margins are tight, but it’s a good business and you enjoy the work. Last year you sold a car to a customer on a payment plan. He drove off the lot and then never made a payment.

What can you do?

Certainly you can ask the customer to return the car or hire a repo man, but if that fails, what then? Every minute that the car is not in your possession, the threat that it will suffer damage or depreciate in value increases. What you need is a way to safely, legally remove the car from harm’s way until you can prove that you own the title to it.

A Writ of Sequestration will allow you to do exactly that.

What it is

Writs of Sequestration are legal devices that allow property to be seized and held for a period of time until a court can determine its true ownership. They are invaluable tools for anyone who has been separated from property and is concerned that it might be damaged or destroyed before it can be recovered.

If a judge grants the writ, he or she will send a constable with you to collect the car and keep it safe until it is returned to you. This means that the car won’t sustain any dings, dents, or chips while you go through the legal process to prove ownership. Without it, there is nothing to prevent someone from damaging your property, losing it, or even absconding with it outside the county.

How to Get It

At the outset, it’s important to know that filing applications for writs is a somewhat complicated process. Fortunately, a small-claims attorney in Fort Worth, Texas can help you negotiate the process with ease.

The first step is to create a legal petition explaining to the judge why you need a Writ of Sequestration. Next, you’ll need to fill out an application for the writ. When these documents are ready, you’ll file them with the court.

When the judge receives your application, he or she will set a hearing date. At the hearing, the court will set a bond amount that will need to be satisfied before the bailiff will help you sequester your vehicle. The idea here is to protect everyone involved: if you wrongly petition for a Writ of Sequestration and take away property that legitimately belongs to someone else, you will be liable for the bond amount. Fortunately, if you keep the rules and use the writ only for its intended purpose, the bond won’t cost you anything in the long run.

Once the bond is settled, the court will consider your petition and application. If the court approves your application, it will issue a Writ of Sequestration and instruct a constable to accompany you to retrieve the property. Once the court determines that you have legal title to it, the bond becomes moot and the property is yours to do with as you please.

If you’re in a business that relies on trusting other people to make payments, the Writ of Sequestration can be a powerful tool when things start to go sideways. If you have questions about this legal device, or need to apply for one in North Texas, click here to contact the office of T. Maxwell Smith, PLLC.

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