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Real Property – Judgments – Subsequent Transfer – Prior Lien – UVTA

Because defendant owned “Lot 15” and a half-interest in “Lot 15A” when plaintiffs obtained and docketed their judgment against defendant, plaintiffs may execute their judgment against Lots 15 and 15A, despite the fact that – after entry of the judgment – defendant deeded his interest in the lots to non-party Reginald Beasley, who apparently held a preexisting lien on the lots. The trial court erred when it ruled that plaintiffs’ only recourse was to file a claim under the Uniform Voidable Transfers Act.
We reverse the trial court’s denial of plaintiffs’ attempt to execute on their judgment and remand.

G.S. § 1-234 provides that a judgment debtor may execute on a judgment against land that was owned by the judgment debtor at or after the time the judgment was indexed in that county, even if the debtor subsequently transfers title to any said property to a third party. Once a judgment is indexed, the land is not relieved of the judgment lien by a transfer of the debtor’s title.

The trial court erred by holding that the Uniform Voidable Transfers Act provides plaintiffs with their exclusive remedy. The UVTA is applicable where a creditor seeks to void a transaction whereby a debtor parts with property for the purpose of keeping the property out of the reach of creditors. However, here, the 2016 transfer by defendant of his remaining interest in the lots—two years after plaintiffs indexed their judgment—had no effect on plaintiffs’ ability to seek execution against the lots.

Since defendant owned Lot 15 and a half-interest in Lot 15A at the time plaintiffs’ judgment was indexed in Onslow County, plaintiffs should have been allowed to proceed with seeking execution against those lots.

However, we note that, assuming the record represents a complete picture of the lots’ title, the successful bidder at an execution sale would receive fee simple title in Lot 15 and a one-half interest in Lot 15A, subject to any superior liens. Accordingly, bidders are at their peril to discover what superior liens are of record.

Reversed and remanded.

Chisum Construction, LLC v. Elliot (Lawyers Weekly No. 012-542-20, 6 pp.) (Chris Dillon, J.) Appealed from New Hanover County Superior Court (Kent Harrell, J.) Tyler Brooks for plaintiffs; William Wright for non-party appellee. N.C. App. Unpub.

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