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Sometimes a creditor who successfully sues you on a debt will place a lien on your vehicle to "secure the judgment." They do this by filing a document with the Maine Secretary of State's office where vehicle registrations are recorded.
But if your vehicle is worth $10,000 or less, the creditor must remove the lien if you ask properly. This is also true if your "ownership interest" is $10,000 or less. This can happen if:
- You took out a loan to buy the vehicle and you have not paid enough on the loan to give you a $10,000 "equity" interest, or
- If you own the vehicle jointly with another and your part-ownership is worth less than $10,000.
But, it is important to remember that this exemption can apply only to one vehicle. For example, if you own two vehicles that are both worth $2,500, only one of them would be exempt.
We have prepared a model form to request that a lien be removed. You can:
- fill out the form,
- attach the evidence you need to prove the value, and
- send it to the company or person who placed the lien on your vehicle.
Keep a copy for your own records.
Remember that this protection applies only where your vehicle meets the "less than $10,000 value" test.
What if they refuse to remove the lien?
If the creditor refuses to remove the lien even after you’ve taken all the necessary steps above, it may be time to take more formal legal action. A creditor who refuses to remove a lien when legally required to do so is potentially liable for financial damages they have caused you, plus your attorney’s fees.
If you need help with pursuing a legal claim, contact a lawyer. Here are some offices that may be able to help you find someone to take your case:
How do I find the "Blue Book" value of my vehicle?
You can visit the Kelly Blue Book website and follow the link to "My Car's Value." This value lookup service is free to use.
What if I have other questions about filling out the form?
Contact one of our offices or feel free to ask questions using our feedback form. Find "feedback" link at the bottom of this page. We cannot advise you about your legal case via e-mail but we can give you tips on using the website and our website resources. We also welcome comments about whether this self-help tool worked for you and suggestions to make it better.