Bulletin: WY000013

Date:
August 04, 2003
To:
All Issuing Offices in Wyoming
RE:
Wyoming Judgments and Liens affecting Real Property

Dear Associates:

This Bulletin is generated in an effort to address confusion arising from statutory changes governing when judgments and liens attach to real property.  Specifically, the question is often raised regarding which records must be searched to determine if judgments and/or liens have attached to real property in a specific county.

Generally, a judgment may attach as follows:

  • For judgments beforeJuly 1, 1999, the first day of the term at which judgment is rendered. However, judgments by confession and judgments rendered at the same term in which the action is commenced shall bind the lands only from the day on which the judgments are rendered. All other lands as well as goods and chattels of the debtor are bound from the time they are seized in execution.
  • For judgments after July 1, 1999, a judgment becomes a lien upon real property within the county in which the judgment is entered from the day the judgment is filed with the county clerk.  W.S. §1-16-301Whenever a judgment is required to be filed with the county clerk, a certified copy of the judgment or order shall be recorded in the real estate records.  W.S.  1-17-302. 

Except for judgments which arise by operation of law, all judgments and orders must be entered in the journal of the court and specify clearly the; (1) relief granted; or, (2) order made in the action.  W.S. §1-16-301The time when a lien of judgment attaches to real property depends upon ; (1) the type of action; (2) the court in which the judgment is entered; and,(3) the jurisdiction in which the judgment is entered.  The discussion that follows will address when a judgment and lien attaches to real property and which records must be examined.

A judgment lien in Wyoming is valid for ten (10) years.  W.S. §1-3-103.  If execution is not issued within five (5) years from the date of Judgment or if five (5) years intervene between the date of last execution issued and the time of issuing another execution, the Judgment is dormant and ceases to operate as a lien on the estate of the Judgment debtor.  W.S. 1-17-307. 

JUDGMENTS OF STATE COURTS

A.  New Circuit Courts.  Effective July 1, 2000, nine Circuit Courts were established for the nine judicial districts in the State.  Laws 2000 c.24 §10.  Circuit courts replaced county courts in the State.  All judicial files, records and dockets belonging to the county courts were to be filed with and constitute the record of the Circuit Courts.  Laws 2000 c.24 §9.

Effective July 1, 2000 , Justice Courts (also known as Justice of the Peace or Small Claims Courts) may be abolished by action of the board of county commissioners in which such justice of the peace is established.  If this occurs, the new Circuit Courts supplant and replace the abolished Justice Court and have jurisdiction previously exercised by the Justice Court .  W.S. §5-9-104.  All judicial files, records and dockets belonging to the Justice Courts shall be filed with and constitute the record of the circuit courts.  Laws 2000 c. 24 §9. 

  • All judgments and decrees entered by the Circuit Courts after July 1, 2000, are liens upon the lands and tenements of persons against whom a judgment or decree has been entered from the day the judgment if filed with the county clerk.  W.S. §1-17-305(a).
  • All judgments and decrees entered by the County Courts or Justice Courts prior to July 1, 2000, are liens upon the lands and tenements of persons against whom a judgment or decree has been entered from the day the judgment if filed with the county clerk.  W.S. §1-17-305(a).
  • All judgments and decrees rendered in a circuit court may be filed with the clerk of the district court and recorded with the county clerk in which the judgment was rendered.

B.  Retention of Justice Courts.  Any county, which continuously maintains Justice of the Peace Courts from August 1, 1999, to July 1, 2000, is entitled to continue to maintain this court after July 1, 2000.  Judgments rendered by a Justice of the Peace Court may file a Transcript of Judgment with the clerk of the district court and the county clerk of the county in which the judgment was rendered.  W.S. §1-17-306(a).

  • Judgments of the Justice Courts become a lien upon real estate when the Transcript of Judgment is filed in the county clerk where the land is located provided that the transcript has also been previously filed or filed on the same day with the clerk of the district court.  W.S. §1-17-306(b).
  • The Judgment creditor may file, upon proper filing and recording of the judgment as set forth above, a Transcript of Judgment with the Clerk of the district court and county clerk in any other county in the State where the debtor owns real property.  W.S. §1-17-304.

D.  State Supreme Court.  Judgment of the State Supreme Court for money binds land and tenements of the debtor within the county in which the suit originated from the day such judgment is filed with the county clerk and recorded in the real estate records. W.S. §1-17-303.

  • Judgments of the State Supreme Court become a lien upon real estate when the Transcript of Judgment is filed with the county clerk and recorded in the real estate records.
  • Judgments of the state district court, which is appealed to the State Supreme Court, are not divested or vacated, but continue until final determination by the State Supreme Court.

JUDGMENTS OF FEDERAL COURTS

Judgments and decrees entered in any U.S. District Court are liens upon land and tenements of persons against whom a judgment or decree has been entered within that county from the date the judgment and filed with the county clerk.  W.S. §1-17-305(a).  Additionally, any judgment or decree entered in any U.S. District Court within the State may file a transcript of judgment in the office of the clerk of the State District Court and the County Clerk in any county in the state where the judgment debtor owns real estate.  W.S. §1-17-305(b).

  • The judgment is a lien upon all real estate owned by the judgment debtor in any county in which the transcript of judgment is filed with the clerk of the district court and county clerk from the date of filing with the county clerk.  W.S. §1-17-305(c).

FOREIGN JUDGMENTS

Foreign Judgments have the same effect as a State District Court Judgment when an authenticated copy of the foreign judgment is filed in the office of the clerk of any district court and any county clerk in the State.  W.S. §1-17-703; [copy of actual judgment, not related instrument, needed.  Hull v. Buffalo Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass'n, 661 P.2d. 1049 (Wyo. 1983)].  Filing a foreign judgment under the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act does not involve a court proceeding.  Hill v. Value Recovery Group, L.P. 964 P.2d. 1256 ( Wyo. 1998)

COMPANY POLICY: SINCE THE PRECISE TIME AT WHICH A JUDGMENT LIEN ATTACHES TO PROPERTY OR BECOMES OPERATIVE DEPENDS UPON THE COURT AND THE JURISDICTION IN WHICH THE JUDGMENT IS ENTERED, THE TITLE EXAMINER SHOULD BE AWARE OF THE WYOMING STATUTORY SECTIONS SET FORTH ABOVE RELATING TO : (1) THE TYPE OF ACTION OR JUDGMENT; (2) THE COURT IN WHICH THE JUDGMENT IS ENTERED; AND , (3)  THE JURISDICTION IN WHICH THE JUDGMENT IS ENTERED IN ORDER TO DETERMINE WHICH RECORDS MUST BE SEARCHED FOR LIENS ATTACHING TO REAL PROPERTY. 

STATE TAX LIENS

Property Tax.  Any delinquent tax on real property constitutes a perpetual lien until paid against all persons. W.S. §39-13-108.  Taxes on personal property are a lien upon all real property owned by the persons against whom the tax is assessed subject to all prior existing valid liens.  If the personal property is transferred before payment of the taxes, it shall be collected from other real or personal property of the transferor against all persons.  However, if the transferor has no other property from which the tax can be collected, then the tax can be collected or enforced from the transferred property.  The lien may be enforced in the district court in any county in which the real property is located.  The action is conducted in a manner similar to a foreclosure of mortgages and sales.  The county treasurer must file a notice of tax lien and certified copy of the delinquent tax statement with the county clerk and recorder of the real estate records in the county in which property is located in order to perfect a state tax lien.

Tax Liens on Mineral Production.  W.S. §39-13-108.  Effective January 1, 2004, all taxes, fees, penalties and interest imposed upon mineral production is an automatic and continuing lien in favor of the county in which the minerals were produced.  This is a lien on all property in the county, including real property and after acquired property rights of the delinquent taxpayer.  This lien is superior and paramount to all other liens, claims, mortgages or other encumbrances of any kind except those liens recorded by a bona fide creditor and properly perfected, foiled and recorded according to Wyoming law.  The county treasurer must file a notice of tax lien and certified copy of the delinquent tax statement with the county clerk and recorder of the real estate records in the county in which mineral production has occurred in order to perfect a state tax lien.

Mine Product Tax.  Any delinquent taxes, fees, penalties and interest on mine products become an automatic and continuing lien until paid in favor of the State on all real property in the State, including after acquired property rights of any persons liable for the tax.  W.S. §39-14-108A lien under this section is superior to all other liens, claims, mortgages or other encumbrances of any kind except liens, claims, mortgages or other encumbrances held by a bona fide creditor and property perfected, filed and recorded under Wyoming law.  The Department may file a notice of lien at any time, at its discretion, but to perfect a tax lien the Department of Revenue must file a notice of tax lien with the Secretary of StateThe filing of the notice of tax lien is record notice of the tax lien

Sales Tax.  Any delinquent sales tax constitutes a lien from the date the tax is due until paid on all real property of those persons who are parties to the transaction.  W.S. §39-15-108.  Notice of Lien must be filed with the county clerk of the county in which the persons who are parties to the transaction reside or in which the vendor conducts business.  The lien does not have preference over pre-existing indebtedness, but it has priority from and after the date of filing or recording. 

COMPANY POLICY: The title examiner must fully understand the tax structure in Wyoming to determine when any general or special tax becomes a lien on real property.  Contract your local underwriter if you have questions regarding additional requirements or removal of miscellaneous liens from real property.

SPECIAL ASSESSMENTS

Power Districts.  All amounts assessed by a power district is an automatic lien against the

land assessed as soon as such assessment is confirmed by the court, and is declared to be a lien against the land so assessed.  W.S. §37-7-130.  It is collected in the same manner as any other money judgment, except it is only collected on the land on which it is a lien.

Local Improvement Districts.  Special assessments levied hereunder are equal with taxes levied against the property by the state, the county and all other taxing districts, and are superior to any other lien or encumbrance created before or after. No sale of property for the nonpayment of taxes or other special assessments shall extinguish any lien other than the taxes or special assessments for the nonpayment of which sale is had.  W.S. §37-13-122.

COMPANY POLICY: The title examiner must fully understand the various types of assessments in Wyoming to determine when any special assessment becomes a lien on real property.  Contract your local underwriter if you have questions regarding additional requirements or removal of miscellaneous liens from real property.

MISCELLANOUS LIENS

Child Support Liens.  An order for payment of child support has the same effect as a judgment or decree of the district court in a civil action from the time of filing with the clerk of the district court and may be enforced by the district attorney or the department of family services in the same manner as provided by law for the enforcement of civil judgments for money.  W.S. §14-6-236.  The Department shall have a lien by operation of law upon any real or personal property owned by the obligor in the State.  In the event that there are competing liens or encumbrances on the property, the priority of the competing liens or encumbrances shall date from the filing or perfection.  W.S. §20-6-106.  Wyoming affords full faith and credit to a child support lien arising in another state provided the lien was properly filed and recorded under the laws of the State in which the lien was created. 

Divorce Decrees incorporating liens must be entered on the journal of the court and a certified copy of the judgment affecting title to real property must be recorded in the office of the county clerk where the property is located. 

COMPANY POLICY:  The title examiner must fully understand the various types of miscellaneous liens in Wyoming to determine when any special assessment becomes a lien on real property.  Contract your local underwriter if you have questions regarding additional requirements or removal of miscellaneous liens from real property.

LIS PENDENS

Either party to an action affecting the title to, or the right of possession of, real property may file a Notice of Lis Pendens with the office of the county clerk in which the property or some part thereof is situated.  W.S. §1-6-108.  The doctrine of lis pendens has no efficacy outside the territorial jurisdiction of the court in which the action is pending.  Ludvik v. James S. Jackson Co., 635 P.2d 1135 ( Wyo. 1981).  However, the plaintiff may file a certified copy of the complaint or a sworn notice of the pendency of the action in the office of the county clerk or counties in which real property is located.  W.S. §1-6-107.  The notice is effective in any other county on the date that the notice is filed in the clerk's office of that county.  A lis pendens is effective from the time of filing such notice for record and gives notice to all interested parties of a possible interest in the property.  While a lis pendens is not a lien, a subsequent purchaser or encumbrancer of property has constructive notice of the pendency of the action.

COMPANY POLICY.  If A Lis Pendens Appears In The Record, The Examiner Must Continue To Look At The Underlying Court File To Determine The Exact Nature Of The Interest In Property.  Contract Your Local Underwriter If You Have Questions Regarding Additional Requirements Or Removal Of Any Lis Pendens Effecting Title To Property.

IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS REGARDING THE ISSUES RAISED BY THIS BULLETIN, PLEASE CONTACT YOUR LOCAL UNDERWRITING PERSONNEL.

THIS BULLETIN IS FURNISHED TO INFORM YOU OF CURRENT DEVELOPMENTS. AS A REMINDER, YOU ARE CHARGED WITH KNOWLEDGE OF THE CONTENT ON VIRTUAL UNDERWRITER  AS IT EXISTS FROM TIME TO TIME AS IT APPLIES TO YOU, AS WELL AS ANY OTHER INSTRUCTIONS. OUR UNDERWRITING AGREEMENTS DO NOT AUTHORIZE OUR ISSUING AGENTS TO ENGAGE IN SETTLEMENTS OR CLOSINGS ON BEHALF OF STEWART TITLE GUARANTY COMPANY. THIS BULLETIN IS NOT INTENDED TO DIRECT YOUR ESCROW OR SETTLEMENT PRACTICES OR TO CHANGE PROVISIONS OF APPLICABLE UNDERWRITING AGREEMENTS. CONFIDENTIAL, PROPRIETARY, OR NONPUBLIC PERSONAL INFORMATION SHOULD NEVER BE SHARED OR DISSEMINATED EXCEPT AS ALLOWED BY LAW. IF APPLICABLE STATE LAW OR REGULATION IMPOSES ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS, YOU SHOULD CONTINUE TO COMPLY WITH THOSE REQUIREMENTS.

References

Bulletins Replaced:
WY000007 This Bulletin has been replaced by WY000013.
Related Bulletins:
None
Underwriting Manual:
3.12 Child Support Judgments
 
6.04 Federal Judgments
 
10.08 Judgments
Exceptions Manual:
None
Forms:
None