What Is a Writ of Execution?

A writ of execution is a court order that is granted to begin the transfer of assets, money or property as the result of a legal judgment. After a judgment for possession is rendered by the court, the judge may then issue a writ of execution to begin the transfer of the assets, money or property. The judgment for possession states the plaintiff has a right to the assets, money or property, the writ of execution begins the transfer process.

If a court issues a writ of execution, usually a local sheriff is charged with taking possession of property owed to the plaintiff. If the property is money, the account may be frozen or the funds may be moved into a holding account. If a property or other assets are to be transferred, the items can be transferred in-kind or can be sold in a sheriff's sale. Funds from the sale can be given to the plaintiff to satisfy the terms of the judgment.

How Writs of Execution Work

A judgment for possession then the writ of execution is necessary when a defendant is required by law to make a payment to a plaintiff, but will not do so voluntarily. It can also be used to evict a tenant who will not leave on their own and who will not pay rent from a residence.

The writ of execution allows the sheriff to collect property that can be sold to produce funds for repayment. In certain cases, the debtor's bank account can be accessed. Certain funds of a debtor may be off-limits to debt collectors even with a writ of execution, including Social Security income and money held in an IRA.

For an eviction, issuance of a writ of execution allows the sheriff to enter the home and remove the tenant and their belongings from the residence.