A writ of execution is a court order to local law enforcement to seize the assets of a debtor. It is the result of a legal judgment against the debtor. The sheriff then conducts an auction of the seized assets and transfers the proceeds to the creditor. Any excess amount of funds over the amount of the underlying debt is returned to the debtor. A writ of execution is unnecessary when the debtor voluntarily pays the amount of a judgment against it. Certain assets are exempt from seizure, including the amount in an individual retirement account.