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What Is A Bankruptcy Exemption?

Most all legal proceedings include terms of art that are unfamiliar to non-attorneys. Just ask anyone who has spent a day in Court and they will tell you that the Judge and lawyers seemed to be speaking a foreign language. This is especially true in bankruptcy court where there are more than the usual amount of legal terms used on a regular basis. One of these terms is the term “exemption”. Each state has a list of exemptions that the debtor is entitled to when filing bankruptcy, and the exemptions can help determine what assets the debtor is allowed to keep.

 

Bankruptcy exemptions exist for your property, and help to keep it safe from a creditor’s reach while you are in your bankruptcy case. The Bankruptcy Code provides for a list of federal exemptions, and the debtor may elect to take those or use the specific state’s list of exemptions. State exemptions are usually more liberal and provide more of a benefit to the bankruptcy filer. Some of the most common types of assets that are exempt from being taken by a creditor include:

● Up to a certain value in your vehicle.

● Up to a certain value in your family residence.

● Your wedding ring.

● Personal items such as clothing and furniture.

● Livestock and other farm implements.

It can be tricky to claim what property you own that is exempt, and you have to be careful that the trustee or a creditor does not challenge your exemptions. For some pieces of property, your home for example, you have to have lived in the state in which you are filing bankruptcy for a certain amount of time prior to filing or the state exemption of your former state of residence may apply. This can make a difference when electing to take the state exemptions, because the value of certain things varies from state to state. Before deciding what to exempt and up to what value, consult with a qualified debt relief attorney. For more information, call our office.

If you have overwhelming debt, call our office for help. We will review the facts of your unique circumstances and develop a strategy that works best for you, your family, and your budget. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.

How To Keep Collateral When Filing For Bankruptcy

A common misconception about filing for bankruptcy is that you can eliminate your debt while keeping your assets. This is simply not the way bankruptcy works. The benefit of bankruptcy is to eliminate burdensome debt and give the debtor a fresh financial start. This may require that you return some of your assets to the lender, so that you no longer have to make a monthly payment. However, for many people this is not the case. Wiping out unsecured debt such as credit card obligations frees up enough income to continue making payment on secured debts such as cars and homes.

The way to keep these types of assets is by negotiating a reaffirmation agreement. A reaffirmation agreement is like a new contract for the debt, and is reduced to a writing that sets forth repayment terms. The agreement is financially binding and will remain so even after the bankruptcy case is complete. Common reasons for deciding to reaffirm a debt include:

● Negotiation of a lower interest rate, which will reduce the monthly payment amount while allowing the consumer to keep valuable assets such as the family residence.

● Rebuilding credit.

● Maintaining a good relationship with the lender, which may prove helpful in the future if new loans are sought.

● Keeping the ability to communicate with the lender, which can be a huge benefit if you fall on hard financial times again and need to negotiate a late payment or seek a loan modification or refinance.

It is important to remember that when you reaffirm a debt you remain financially responsible for the payments. This means if you fail to make the payments, you can still be sued for the debt and even for repossession or foreclosure. Making the decision to reaffirm should only be made after thoughtful analysis. We can help you review your circumstances and determine which debts are right for you to reaffirm, and what pieces of property you can live without and return to the lender.

If you have questions about what assets you can keep in a bankruptcy, call our office for help. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.

Eligibility Requirements For Filing Bankruptcy

Filing bankruptcy provides many financial benefits, so it is important to know if you are eligible to file. It is also important to know for which chapter you qualify, and what to expect during your case. The short answer is people with consumer debt are allowed to file bankruptcy, and businesses are also eligible. The determination as to what type of case you will be filing involves a complex mathematical computation, but a skilled bankruptcy attorney will do the math for you.

The bankruptcy laws define “who can be a debtor”, and the definition includes:

● An individual, with consumer debt.

● A company that is seeking to liquidate its operations, or looking to reorganize itself.

This is the easy party, because as you can see nearly everyone fits the definition of a “debtor” under the Bankruptcy Code. The chapter you are eligible to file is a different story though, given the changes to the law in 2005. Most people prefer to file a Chapter 7 case, which will liquidate all of your unsecured debt. The less desirable form of bankruptcy is a Chapter 13, which acts like a consolidation of debt. Prior to 2005 debtors made the decision as to which chapter of bankruptcy to file. But today a filer must undergo careful scrutiny of their finances when filing and if there appears to be too much disposable income then the Courts will require a Chapter 13 case be initiated. This calculation is referred to as the means test, and your bankruptcy attorney will walk you through the process and make sure the result of the test is mathematically accurate so you don’t run afoul of the rules on which chapter to file. We have experience performing the means test calculation and know what information to get from you in order to reach the right result.

If you are considering filing bankruptcy and have questions about your eligibility, call a knowledgeable attorney to discuss your options. We can help you understand your choices and make a decision that works for you. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.

What Is A Deed In Lieu Of Foreclosure?

When in the middle of a foreclosure, and after having exhausted all efforts to save your home has proven unsuccessful, it is possible to get out of the foreclosure by giving the property back to the lender. When agreeable to the mortgage holder, offering a deed in lieu of foreclosure can stop the pending foreclosure and allow you time to remove your belongings from the home. There are documents that require your signature to effectuate the transfer of title back to the lender, and having an experienced debt relief attorney help you will ensure that your rights are protected during the process.

While signing a deed in lieu of foreclosure to stop a case against you will in fact stop the case, there are things you need to know, and possible consequences. These include:

 

● Getting your lender to agree to the process may prove difficult, and is a time consuming process. Allowing an experienced attorney to take on this task for you not only shortens the time frame for approval, but also takes the burden and stress off you.

● You may have a tax liability for the property even if you give a deed to the lender removing yourself from the title and paving the way for the lender to remarket the property.

● Your credit score will note the deed in lieu, and the impact is not any less significant than the notation of a foreclosure.

With these possible consequences you may wonder why attempt the deed in lieu process. Perhaps the biggest benefit is that when negotiated properly, the lender will agree to waive the right to collect any deficiency remaining after the property is resold. This can result in huge savings and ensure you do not face a collections lawsuit after the fact. Getting to this point takes careful analysis and bartering with the lender. Let our office help you by exchanging information with the lender on your behalf.

If you are considering executing a deed in lieu of foreclosure, call a knowledgeable attorney to discuss your options and make sure this solution is right for you. We can help you understand your choices and make a decision that meets your needs. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.

Will A Loan Modification Help Save My House?

Facing foreclosure of your home is something no one envisions when singing their mortgage. However, the events of life sometimes put honest people in unfortunate financial situations. There are options available to avoid foreclosure, and when trying to save your home you should use your best efforts to explore every avenue. Aside from challenging the validity of a foreclosure proceeding you can attempt a short sale, seek the protection of bankruptcy, or ask that your loan be modified.

There are several loan modification programs available to distressed homeowners. One of the most popular programs is the Making Homes Affordable Act (HAMP) Program. This program is one that your current lender may participate in, and that should be your first place you inquire for eligibility. Some benefits of this program include:

 

● Reduced interest rates, which will significantly lower your monthly payment. If your payment is unreasonably high, the savings can be great, making a new lower payment more manageable and more in line with your monthly budget.

● Skipping a payment, maybe even two. When you modify your loan under any modification program the chances are high that you will skip at least one required monthly payment. This can free up disposable income, which gives you the opportunity to focus on other, more pressing debt.

● Shorter repayment terms, which will save thousands of dollars in interest.

A loan modification is a useful tool when trying to save your home from foreclosure. Not only will you enjoy a lower payment, but in many instances seeking modification works to place a foreclosure proceeding on hold. This can give you the breathing room you need to get a handle on your finances and develop a plan that fits works for your bank account. The process can be confusing though, so the assistance of a skilled financial planning attorney is helpful. Call our office for more information and to learn your options.

If you are facing foreclosure and interested in a loan modification, let an experienced attorney help you. We fight to protect your rights so you can work to save your home. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.

What Is A Reaffirmation Agreement?

Filing for bankruptcy answers a lot of questions about your debt, but also creates others. For instance, you might be wondering the difference between a Chapter 7 and a Chapter 13, and might also need to know what things you are allowed to keep and what must be surrendered. The law is full of terms that are not in most people’s everyday vocabulary, and this will also give you many questions that need answers. Knowing what a 341 meeting is will help you know when to appear in Court and what to expect when you get there. Understanding how a discharge works will give you the knowledge needed to determine what debts are no longer due after the bankruptcy case is over. And, when you want to keep certain things it is critical to understand the purpose of a reaffirmation agreement.

The way to keep certain things, like your car or house, when you file bankruptcy is by signing a reaffirmation agreement. A reaffirmation agreement is like a new contract or loan, and it will mean you must make payments for the collateral reaffirmed even after the bankruptcy case ends. Because you will remain financial obligated for all debts reaffirmed, it is important to have the following facts:

 

● You can still be sued for debts that are reaffirmed, if you do not reaffirm on an obligation the creditor loses the ability to sue you.

● You might still receive collection calls or letters if you reaffirm a debt.

These consequences seem scary, but with the right amount of knowledge you will be able to make a decision that works. Reaffirming a debt is usually the only way a lender will not require return of property. But doing so has to be something that makes financial sense. A careful analysis of your budget will tell you if you are able to make the payments on a reaffirmed debt, and thus allow you to make a choice that is in your best financial interest. It is our job to help you understand the terms you are agreeing to when signing a reaffirmation and to explain to you the possible consequences if you default on the reaffirmation. We help people make these types of important decisions every day and can help you too.

For answers to your questions about reaffirmation agreements, call our office. We explain the consequences of reaffirming and help you reach a decision that works for you. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.

 

I Disputed The Debt And Got Garnished Anyway: What Can I Do?

Being sued for debts is a stressful experience. No payment of debt is not an intentional act, but usually comes about due to unforeseen circumstances. For most people an unexpected life circumstance leads to debt quickly piling up, which is impossible to pay. All it takes is one catastrophic event, such as being diagnosed with cancer or being in a serious accident, for your finances to take a tumble. If you have received a demand for payment, the first step you should take is to dispute the debt and request the creditor provide what is due. This is the only way to ensure you are paying a legitimate debt and that the amount is accurate.

Even though it is your legal right to dispute a debt, some creditors proceed with legal process despite your dispute. When left unanswered, a demand for payment can escalate to a lawsuit. If you fail to defend the lawsuit a judgment can be entered against you and once that happens the next step is garnishment. To put an end to a garnishment on a disputed debt, take the following steps:

● Challenge the garnishment itself and seek to be exempt from being garnished.

● File a motion to vacate the judgment against you.

● Bring an independent action against the creditor for wrongful collection.

The options you have depend on how long it has been since the judgment was entered against you, and at what time the garnishment was issued. The rules of civil procedure will dictate your choices, and a skilled debt relief attorney can help figure out where in the stage your case is and advise your legal options. Call us for more information and for a review of your case.

Did The Lender Have The Right To Foreclose: The Standing Issue

All legal cases begin with an injured person and a responsible party. This is true whether you are talking about a car wreck, a breach of contract, or a criminal matter. In order to seek recovery for an alleged wrong, the person filing a lawsuit must have standing to do so. This legal term of art means that the person or entity suing has the right to do so, either by being the injured party or by holding a contract or other piece of paper that gives legal rights. When determining whether a lender has standing to file a foreclosure, several factors must be present.

This issue first came to forefront of the legal landscape right here in Florida. In 2007, when foreclosure rates were at an all-time high, important information about lenders’ foreclosure practices came under heavy scrutiny. To recap, the issue was as follows:

● Evidence was uncovered showing that lenders were having employees sign affidavits to start the foreclosure process without having any actual knowledge of the loan status. This was the so called “robo signing” scandal.

● Many lenders were not actually in possession of any obligatory documents that would give them the right to enforce payment. Without a right to enforce payment, there is no right to foreclose the mortgage.

● Most foreclosing plaintiffs were merely servicing loans, and not entitled to accept payments. This was problematic because only the entity entitled to payment has the right to file a lawsuit for nonpayment.

While many lenders have changed their practices, there are still untold numbers of instances where a foreclosure is initiated by a plaintiff without the right to do so. If you have questions about whether the entity suing you for foreclosure has standing to do so, you should challenge the entire procedure. Doing so requires requesting to be shown the original note and that the plaintiff was in possession of the note prior to suing you. This process requires careful legal analysis and the assistance of a skilled legal professional.

If you are being foreclosed on and believe the case is wrongful, call our office for help. We will review the facts of your unique circumstances and develop a strategy that fits the facts. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.

Was The Foreclosure On My House Wrongful?

Losing your home deals a harsh blow to your family. With the massive increase in foreclosure filings in recent years, more and more courts are taking extra special care to make sure the foreclosure is done properly and without glitches. If you believe the foreclosure on your home is wrongful you can and should challenge its validity. Doing so will ensure the process proceeds as it should and that the result is correct.

Florida foreclosures, like every other state, should only be initiated by the lender that has the right to take back possession of the home. Common errors made by foreclosing lenders include:

● Foreclosing without the proper documentation.

● Foreclosing on an active duty military member.

● Failing to account for the amount due or being able to prove the note is in default.

● Starting a case with documents that were not signed by you (either a forgery, or simply not signed at all).

If you have any doubt as to whether the foreclosure on your house is proper, call our office. When things don’t seem right, they usually aren’t. You have the right to make sure the lender has the right to foreclose on you and that they provide proof of the debt as well as the amount they claim to be past due. You are entitled to an accurate pay history and to see the originals of the loan documents. When a lender fails to abide by the rules and regulations governing foreclosures, the process should go no further. This has been the general feeling across the country and the courts are not ignoring the severity of displacing people from their homes. This is your “day in Court” and you should take full advantage of the opportunity to challenge the possible loss of your home.

 

If you are being foreclosed on and believe the case is wrongful, call our office for help. We will review the facts of your unique circumstances and develop a strategy that fits the facts. We offer an individualized approach and work with you to reach satisfactory results. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.

Fighting A Foreclosure

Your home is your most valuable asset. This is where you gather with family and friends and share many of life’s most important events. When faced with the possibility of losing your home you need to consider all of your options. A foreclosure takes away your home and your sense of a place to belong. We aggressively fight for your right to stay in your home and stop a foreclosure.

In Florida, foreclosures are termed judicial, which means a case gets filed in Court to foreclose your mortgage. Some popular ways to fight a foreclosure include:

 

● Challenging the lender’s right to initiate and maintain the foreclosure.

● Requesting a short sale of the property.

● Offering the lender a deed in lieu of the foreclosure.

When the case proceeds down the judicial path, you can file motions with the Court to have the case dismissed, and you can also issue written questions and requests for documentation from the lender (referred to as discovery). The lender is required to show they are the holder of the note, which is the document that gives them the right to foreclose. Absent proof of note ownership, the foreclosure should not be allowed to continue. The issue is complex and requires careful legal analysis. We can help make that analysis and offer guidance as to how it is best to proceed.

If you are being foreclosed on, call our office for help. We will review the facts of your unique circumstances and develop a strategy that fits the facts. We offer an individualized approach and work with you to reach satisfactory results. Call a Plantation, Florida debt relief attorney today for more information.