GuillotineNo, not the scary kind. Today’s topic: writs of execution in the sheriff’s office, and what this may mean on the sale of your home.

If you owe child support or spousal support, or lost a lawsuit and didn’t pay the judgement, or owed money to the bank that you skipped out on, or many other reasons why someone might be looking to collect some money from you, that creditor can register what is called a writ of execution in the sheriff’s office of the county or region where you live. In fact, the creditor can register the writ in every region in Ontario, in order to catch you if you move.

But, you will say, I have never done anything that could lead to a writ. So why do I need to care about this?

The problem with writs is that the system for checking for them is broad. If I look up John Edward Smith, I will get every John Smith and every Edward Smith. In order to make sure that none of the writs against either of those people attaches to your house, I have to be sure that you are not any of those people. If the writ is under $50,000.00, you can sign an affidavit that you are not the same person. If it is over $50,000.00, I will need to make a statement that I have confirmed that you are not the same person – and so in addition to an affidavit, I will also need a letter from the creditor confirming that, based on your birthdate and other information, you are not the same person as the one they are collecting funds from.

Writs are a very important tool to keep people who owe money from being able to skip town with the proceeds of a house. If you have a common name, however, you would be well advised to have your lawyer check your name early, and you should hold on to any evidence you acquire confirming that you are not the same person as the person named in the writ in case you need that evidence again in the future.