How Long Does a Lien Stay on Your Bank Account?

by Valencia Higuera ; Updated July 27, 2017

A lien or frozen bank account has a great impact on your money situation. You can't write checks on the account or withdraw funds; and if this bank account contains all your funds, acquiring life's necessities can prove challenging. But fortunately, bank liens aren't forever and you can recover funds.

What is a Bank Account Lien?

A creditor can file a lawsuit to recover funds from an unpaid balance. If you don't appear in court to dispute the charge, a judge can place a credit judgment on your credit report and attach a lien to your bank account. With a lien attached to your bank account, your financial institution freezes all funds in your account, which prevents you from depositing or removing funds.

Length of a Bank Lien

Liens attached to your bank account remain in effect until you pay the judgment. The sooner you address a bank account lien and contact your creditor or the court issuing the lien, the sooner you can lift the lien and regain access to your personal funds.

Vacating the Judgment

Vacating the judgment is one way to quickly lift a bank account lien and access your funds. Vacating a judgment basically re-opens the case. You'll need to visit the court that issued the judgment, or visit your local courthouse if dealing with an out-of-state creditor, and then file the necessary documents to vacate the judgment with the court clerk's office. This filing immediately reverses a lien, and you're assigned a new court date to go before a judge.

Deal With the Debt

If you owe the debt, vacating the judgment only prolongs the process. A judge will likely re-issue a judgment and you'll owe the funds. Contact the court or the original creditor to begin a payment plan to pay off the balance you owe. Paying the balance in full can quickly lift the lien, but if you don't have the cash, work out an installment plan. Creditors notify the court once you've satisfied a judgment, and the court lifts the bank lien.

About the Author

Valencia Higuera is a freelance writer from Chesapeake, Virginia. She has contributed content to print publications and online publications such as Sidestep.com, AOL Travel, Work.com and ABC Loan Guide. Higuera primarily works as a personal finance, travel and medical writer. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English/journalism from Old Dominion University.