Monday, July 31, 2017
A lot of information about mortgage modifications is readily available online, from your lender, friends and family, and professional debt management specialists. With all of the sources available to you, it can be hard to know which pieces of information are accurate and what you need to do to take advantage of the mortgage modification possibilities. One of the most common types of modifications is the HAMP program, which was a government backed modification program. But with the changing of the guard at the White House, many of the programs once available to distressed homeowners are no longer available. In that regard you may have heard or read something about the expiration of HAMP and require more information about what type of modification plan is still available.
There are still mortgage modification plans available, and all you have to do is speak with your lender about what they can offer. Once you have made that initial phone call, be prepared to do the following:
• Fill out an application for modification.
• Provide proof of income and ability to repay the modified loan.
• Provide tax documents.
• Prove you have current homeowner’s insurance and that the real estate taxes are current (or can be brought current).
You will not need to have a new appraisal of your home done, and in most cases you will not be required to pay any out of pocket closing expenses. The expenses associated with a modification are typically part of the newly modified loan, and are repaid over the course of that loan. And you do not have to get an appraisal done, because you are modifying your existing mortgage loan with your existing mortgage lender. Your existing mortgage lender will know the value of your home based on the data provided when the loan was initially made, and from publicly available sources. What you do need to do though is have an experienced debt management attorney help you with the process. It might seem like a few simple steps, but a lot of times the process becomes more complex than simply filling out an application and providing documents. In a good number of cases the lenders request duplicate information, and drag their heels while processing the application. But when you enlist the help of a professional, you get the benefit of knowing clear records are made and kept, and a no nonsense approach is taken.
For more information about debt and mortgage modifications, call us today or reach us online at www.law-ri.com. We offer appointments at multiple locations for your convenience and can schedule a time to visit with you today.
Friday, July 28, 2017
When you have more debt than you can handle it can cause your entire world to turn upside down. Credit card companies have a habit of charging high late fees and raising the interest rate to exorbitant levels when payments are missed, auto lenders turn to repossession for missed car payments, and your mortgage holder will initiate foreclosure proceedings if you default on your house payments. Fortunately there are things you can do to prevent many of these things from happening, starting with finding areas to cut back on spending so your paycheck goes farther. If that does not work you can always seek professional help to get your finances in order.
When the debt in question is your home loan, here are four steps you can take to stop a foreclosure:
• Modify your existing mortgage to a more manageable rate and lower monthly payment.
• Refinance your home.
• Offer the lender a deed in lieu of foreclosure.
• See if the lender will take a short sale of the property, which means a sale for less than what is owed.
Each of these steps will stop a foreclosure, if done right. A modification of your mortgage will end a pending foreclosure upon approval of the modification, and can even cause the foreclosure to be placed on hold while you are negotiating the modification. When you refinance your existing mortgage is paid off, so the lender will no longer have the right to foreclose because they will no longer be owed a balance. A deed in lieu is an action taken by the homeowner to voluntarily sign over title to the property, back to the lender, and works when the title is clear for this action and the lender is agreeable. In this instance you will not be able to remain in your home, but you can save your credit from have a foreclosure notation. You are also not permitted to stay in your house with a short sale, but it is a good way to unload the property and pay the bank that does not include a foreclosure. You just have to be careful that the lender will not still ask you to pay the difference. And when these options do not provide the relief you require, you can file for bankruptcy. Bankruptcy puts an immediate stop to any action against you, by your creditors, to collect debts. This includes garnishments, foreclosures, collection lawsuits, and repossessions. For more information, and to find out what type of bankruptcy case you qualify to file, call our office.
For more information about managing your mortgage payment or asking for a modification, call us today or reach us online at www.law-ri.com. We will help by looking at the facts of your case and giving you options to reach your financial goals.
Thursday, July 27, 2017
Filing for bankruptcy offers a consumer debtor several financial protections. First, a bankruptcy filing stops creditors from calling or suing you. The minute you file a bankruptcy case the automatic stay is put in place, and it is this legal mechanism that prevents creditors from taking action against you to collect a debt. Second, you get a chance to catch your breath and start over. Bankruptcy will either eliminate or reduce your debts, giving you a fresh financial start. In some cases you can even pay less than the full balance for some of the things you keep, like your car, but it depends on the specifics of your case. With all of these possible benefits, it can be difficult to know if bankruptcy is the right option for you.
For instance, if your main debt is your house you may be better off modifying your mortgage instead of filing for bankruptcy. A mortgage modification lets your mortgage lender rewrite the loan, most notably by reducing the interest rate. When your rate goes down, so does your payment. So how can you tell if you should file bankruptcy, or modify your mortgage? Here are some questions to ask yourself:
• Is the majority of your debt credit card debt, or is it your mortgage loan?
• How far behind are you on your house payment?
• Are you able to make your house payment and still pay other bills too, or do you have to decide each month which loans to pay?
• Is your house payment eating up most of your take home pay each month?
• What interest rate are you currently paying for your home?
If you have a lot of debt, besides just your house, bankruptcy may be the better option. But if the bulk of your debt load is your mortgage, you should consider asking for a mortgage modification. You should also think about a modification if your current interest rate is significantly higher than the current rates being offered for home loans. No one wants to pay more for their property than they need to, and if you can obtain a lower rate and pay less over the long haul, a mortgage modification is a good idea.
For more information about mortgage loan modifications, call us today or reach us online at www.law-ri.com. We will help by coming up with solutions that work for you and have multiple locations for more convenient one on one office visits.
Wednesday, July 26, 2017
A foreclosure is the bank’s way of taking possession of your home when you fail to make the required payments. The process is stressful not only because you are struggling financially, but because losing your home can take an emotional and physical toll on you and your family. If you are forced out of your home by a foreclosure, you still need shelter. So not only will you need to leave a place where you feel secure, you will also have to find a new place to live. This creates emotional discomfort, and also requires you to undertake the physical act of moving. If you are facing a foreclosure, the time to act is now if you want to try and save your home.
A good place to start is to ask for a modification of your mortgage. Here are three ways a mortgage modification can potentially stop a foreclosure:
• If your home is currently in foreclosure and you ask for your loan to be reviewed for a modification, the lender is not allowed to proceed with the foreclosure until that review has been made. This is referred to as the prohibition against dual tracking, and it is not permissible.
• If you are successful in obtaining a modification, you will be allowed to resume payment at the new amount, per the modified loan terms. When you resume payments and remain current on the new loan, a foreclosure is not an available remedy to the lender because you are not delinquent.
• A modification request gives you the chance to explain your financial situation to your lender. During this time, while negotiating ways to make your mortgage work again, your lender will not be initiating a foreclosure. So if a foreclosure has not been started yet, asking for a modification is one way to prevent that process from ever beginning.
We have all heard how important it is to keep in contact with your creditors when you are having a hard time making payments. This is because when you show a willingness to work with your lenders, they are more likely to reciprocate that same willingness. But, if you stick your head in the sand and hope your financial troubles disappear, you may wind up the defendant in a foreclosure or other collection matter. Let us help prevent action being taken against you, by being proactive and working on your behalf for loan terms that meet your needs.
For more information about mortgage modifications and foreclosures, contact us at www.law-ri.com. We will help by coming up with solutions that work for you and have multiple locations to meet your needs for office visits.
Tuesday, July 25, 2017
Falling behind on your house payments is no one’s idea of fun, but it does happen. If you have had a drop in income, have lost your job, or experienced an emergency that caused your monthly expenses to skyrocket you do have options. But it can be hard to make the right choice, and making the right choice depends on your personal circumstances and needs. For some people the decision to file for bankruptcy is the right one, and for others it is more beneficial to look at alternatives.
One alternative is to ask your mortgage holder to modify your loan. A mortgage modification can lower your payments, because the key element in a mortgage modification is lowering the interest rate.
Here are some ways to know if the time is right for you to modify your mortgage:
• You are behind on your monthly mortgage payments.
• You are not able to make a full payment.
• You are not able to pay your mortgage and keep up with all of your other bills and living expenses.
• Your salary is lower now than when you bought your house.
• Your house is worth less now than when it was purchased.
• Your interest rate is higher than the current mortgage loan rates.
If any of these apply to you, you should consider modifying your mortgage. The lower payment will help you to make on time payments and in many cases the past due amount can be wrapped into the modified loan. This saves you from having to come up with a lump sum payment to get current, while keeping you in your house. A modification will also help you stay on track with all of your monthly obligations, because when your house payment is lowered you have more disposable income to pay other bills. Being able to pay all of your expenses without going into further debt is the first step towards becoming debt free. It is also the first step towards getting your expenses in line with you income, so you don’t overspend. Our goal is to help you put your finances right, and keep them that way so you have enough money to meet your obligations and even put some aside for an emergency. Call us for help.
For more information about how to handle overwhelming debt, contact us at www.law-ri.com. We will help by coming up with solutions that work for you and have multiple locations to meet your needs for office visits.
Monday, July 24, 2017
Debt is something we all have, and thus is something we all have to find ways to handle. If left unchecked, too much debt can cause problems in your marriage or other relationships, can impact your health, cause you to be less patient with your children, and may even consume so much of your attention that your work product begins to suffer. Any of these things, standing alone, is hard to deal with, but when they arise as the result of having too much debt the weight seems heavier. In order to get out from burdensome debt, you have to be proactive and turn to a professional when needed. This is true for everyone, even the rich and famous.
Here are some of the ways stars deal with the debt, which may work for you as well:
• Develop a budget that fits your finances while still meeting your needs.
• Negotiate for better lending rates or the best price possible when making a purchase.
• Consolidate your debt, so you only have to make one or two payments each month to cover all of your necessary expenses.
• Wait before making a big purchase. Sometimes giving yourself more time to think about buying a new house or car will put things in perspective and help you determine how much you can afford to spend.
• Pay off small balances first, and then put the money you would normally spend on that balance to the next highest balance. Doing this will give you a sense of accomplishment when something reaches a zero balance and help keep you motivated.
• Pay off your credit cards each month so you don’t have to pay the interest.
If you have tried these things, and others, and are still having financial difficulty there are legal remedies you can use as well. The most popular is to file for bankruptcy. And if you think that filing for bankruptcy will reflect negatively on your money management skills or on your spending choices, think again. Even some of the most well-known superstars have filed for bankruptcy. For example; Kim Basinger, MC Hammer, Burt Reynolds, and Larry King are just a few celebrities who have filed bankruptcy to get a hold of their financial situation.
For more information about how to handle overwhelming debt, contact us today at www.law-ri.com. We will help you come up with solutions that work for your family, and have multiple locations where we schedule appointments so you can make a choice that is convenient for you.
Friday, July 21, 2017
Each year thousands upon thousands of people descend on Las Vegas and other cities where gambling is legal, with the hope of hitting a jackpot or winning a big hand of poker. Vegas is also a popular destination for weddings, birthday celebrations, and bachelor or bachelorette parties. No doubt, Vegas or Atlantic City can be fun, and gambling can be fun but you do have to be careful not to spend more than you can afford. The allure of a slot machine or table game is to make a lot of money in a short amount of time, but more often than not the house wins. In fact, the house almost always wins, and this means the gamblers are the ones who lose. If you go to have fun and are able to walk away without losing the shirt off of your back then by all means enjoy a weekend trip to your favorite gambling city. But, if you are not able to control yourself, you could quickly end up in financial ruin.
This is true for everyone, even people we tend to think of as having plenty of money. Here is a short list of celebrities who have dealt with a gambling addiction or simply love to spend time at a casino:
• Troubled pro golfer Tiger Woods
• Actor Tobey Maguire
• Everyone’s favorite “bad boy”, Charlie Sheen
• Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps
• Actor Ben Affleck
• Former professional basketball player, Charles Barkley
Whether these stars have a gambling addiction or not is anyone’s guess, and is best left to a professional to diagnosis. But what is certain is that no one is immune from the glitz and excitement gambling offers. If you have incurred a lot of debt as the result of a gambling habit, now is the time to take steps to get out of debt. We can offer you solutions to get your money problems straightened out, and put you back on solid financial ground. Whether you need to file bankruptcy, try to refinance or modify your mortgage loan, or work to save your car from repossession, we know what needs to be done. Let us help.
If you have more questions about debt, contact us today at www.law-ri.com. We will help you come up with solutions that work for your family, and have multiple locations where we schedule appointments so you can make a choice that is convenient for you.
Thursday, July 20, 2017
Having very little, or even no debt can be liberating. Think about how much your stress level would decrease if you were able to pay all of your bills without struggling, or how nice it would be to put aside part of your paycheck each month for an emergency. This is what it is like to be debt free and you can get there! But, it does take a little work and some discipline when it comes to spending and budgeting.
Five steps to being debt free include:
• Living on less than what you make. When your budget requires you to spend every cent you earn on necessities, you can quickly find yourself facing a foreclosure or repossession if your job or family circumstances change.
• Avoiding impulse purchases.
• Paying off credit card balances each month rather than carrying them over month to month and paying interest on top of interest on those balances.
• Having an emergency fund for house or car repairs, rather than using a credit card to cover these expenses.
• Sticking to a budget.
It might look easy, but we know the truth is that staying on track with your money is not a piece of cake. If you are trying to get your finances in shape so you can live debt free, but are having a hard time getting started, let us help. We can talk to you about options to reduce your overall debt load, such as mortgage loan modifications or bankruptcy, so you can use the extra savings to pay things off or put aside for unexpected emergencies. We know what it takes to get in good financial shape, but more importantly we know how to help you make a choice that will allow you to stay financially healthy. Our goal is to find a solution that will get you out of your immediate financial crisis while allowing you to plan for the future on solid financial footing. If you are not able to pay all that you owe and are wondering what you can do to change this, call us to learn more about your choices.
If you have more questions about how to get out of debt, contact us today at www.law-ri.com. We will help you get prepared for what comes after we file your case, and have multiple locations where we schedule appointments.
Wednesday, July 19, 2017
We all know that if you ignore your debts, they will only catch up with you and cause more trouble. For instance, if you are behind on payments and are letting calls go to voice mail, you are not really solving the problem. All you are doing is causing the lender to continue auto dialing your phone, all the while fees and interest expenses are being added to your balance. It is also pretty common knowledge that if you don’t pay your bills, the items you purchased with the loan may be taken from you (either by repossession or foreclosure). None of these things will help improve your situation, so it is always good to have a plan when you have more debts than you have money.
There are also some unseen costs to ignoring overwhelming debt, or things that most of us do not automatically associate with having too much debt. Three of these types of unseen costs are:
• Added stress to yourself and your family. It has been said that money and financial troubles are the number one cause of most struggles in a marriage or relationship, and that is because when one person bears most of the burden resentment can quickly build. Or, it might be that when money is tight people are more on edge and prone to either pick a fight or participate in a heated conversation. Either way, money problems are a huge source of stress, and most times the effects are not visibly noticeable.
• Damage to your credit score. When you don’t pay your bills on time, your lenders report you as delinquent to the credit reporting bureaus. A few late payments may not seem like a big deal, because at first there are no negative effects. But over time the constant notation that you pay late will hurt your credit. So while you cannot immediately see or feel the pinch to your credit of a late payment, it will eventually cost you.
• Higher rates for rentals. Believe it or not the amount you pay to rent a car, an apartment, or even your insurance premium can depend in part on your finances. When your credit shows too much debt or late payments, some companies raise their rates with you because they feel you are a lending risk.
One way to combat some of these unseen costs is to get a grip on your money. If you are struggling to make ends meet, one way to do this is to file for bankruptcy. While bankruptcy will have an impact on your credit, it will also stop lawsuits and collection calls. This alone can take off some added stress, and the impact on your credit is not as harsh as you might think. In fact, most people are able to start repairing their credit within months of completing a bankruptcy case.
For more information about how to manage debt, contact us at www.law-ri.com. We will help by coming up with solutions that work for you and have multiple locations to meet your needs for office visits.
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
When you don’t have enough money to pay all of your bills each month it seems strange to think that you might make too much money to obtain some sort of debt relief. But that question comes up more than you might think when people start looking at filing bankruptcy to alleviate their financial stress. There are two types of bankruptcy cases available to consumers, and one of them does take into consideration your income level.
A Chapter 7 case is a liquidation of debts, and a Chapter 13 case is a reorganization of debts. Most people who file bankruptcy prefer to file a Chapter 7 because it allows them to get rid of all of their unsecured debt, and lasts a shorter amount of time. But in order to be able to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you have to meet certain requirements. Most notably, your secured debt to income ratio has to be a certain amount, as determined by the means test. The means test is:
• Part of the Bankruptcy laws and everyone who files a case has to put their finances through this computation.
• The test compares how much secured debt you pay each month, compared to how much income you bring in each month.
• If the test shows you have at least some disposable income left after paying secured obligations, to put towards your unsecured debts, you will be required to file a Chapter 13 case instead of a Chapter 7.
So while you can never really make too much money to file a bankruptcy case, your income level can dictate which type of case you are allowed to file. In either case, you get relief from overwhelming debt, and are able to get a fresh financial start. And, in either case, you get the benefit of the automatic stay, which prevents your creditors from harassing you as soon as you file a case. Along with the prohibition against contacting you for payment, creditors are also no longer able to file lawsuits against you for collection of debt or garnish your wages. These benefits alone are significant enough to make filing bankruptcy an attractive option when you are in over your head.
If you have more questions about bankruptcy, contact us at www.law-ri.com. We will help by coming up with solutions that work for you and have multiple locations to meet your needs for office visits.
Monday, July 17, 2017
Bankruptcy for consumers comes in one of two forms; a Chapter 7 case, or a Chapter 13 case. A Chapter 7 is a liquidation of debts, whereby your unsecured debts are completely eliminated. A Chapter 7 case is usually over in a few short months, with the discharge order being entered around 4 months after your case is filed. It can go a little faster, but can also take a bit longer depending on your personal circumstances. A Chapter 13 case is a case where you reorganize your debt, into a repayment plan. The plan will include proposed repayment to all of your creditors, including unsecured creditors. This does not mean you will have to pay back all of your credit cards and other unsecured debt, as most Chapter 13 plans provide for repayment of only a small percentage of your unsecured balance (sometimes as low as 0.00 or 1.00%). With all of these differences, you might be wondering what the requirements are to file each type of case.
One of the biggest questions about what is required to file a Chapter 13 is if there is a minimum amount of debt to qualify. The answer is no, but there are other requirements that have to do with your financial picture, such as:
• How much of your debt is secured vs. unsecured?
• What is your income level, for the past 6 months?
• What amount of your income is being devoted to repayment of secured debts?
So while you do not have to have a certain amount of debt to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you do have to know the details of your income and expenses. The rules on bankruptcy were changed in 2005, requiring those that file to first undergo a financial calculation. The test is called the means test, and it measures how much of your income is left after you pay your secured debts each month. Depending on the answer, you will be able to file either a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 case. The calculation is complicated, but we know what goes into it and can get it done for you properly. If you file a case with an improper means test result, your case may not make it through the Court. Let us help you file a case correctly, so you don’t have to worry about doing it over or answering complex legal questions about your paperwork.
If you have more questions about bankruptcy, contact us at www.law-ri.com. We will help by coming up with solutions that work for you and have multiple locations to meet your needs for office visits.
Friday, July 14, 2017
Most things that have to do with money require a lot of paperwork. Think about the amount of documents you have to gather each year to do your taxes, or to send your kids to school. Almost everything has an application that has to be filled out, from renting a car or apartment to asking a bank to loan you money. It would seem reasonable that once you have obtained a mortgage, your mortgage company would have record of all of your information, eliminating the need to provide it again if you ask for your loan to be modified. However, when you apply for a mortgage modification, you are required to submit documents again, so it is a good idea to know what will be required if this is something you are thinking about doing in the near future.
Other than the application form provided by your lender, here are five of the essential documents needed to modify your mortgage:
• Proof of income, which can be a paystub or copy of your tax return.
• Bank statements for at least the past six months, for both checking and savings accounts.
• A financial worksheet, which may be part of the application packet, detailing your income and expenses. If you rely on a written budget each month, this information is usually the same as what is included on your budget.
• Proof of homeowner’s insurance, listing your lender as the loss payee.
• A printout of the property taxes you typically pay on your home.
Once you have all of your data gathered, allow a trained legal professional to help you get them in order and turned in to your lender. Applying for a mortgage modification might seem like a task you can do without the assistance of a professional, but there can be hiccups and other issues that arise along the way that require legal analysis. The time and effort you put into having a debt management attorney help you will pay off in the end, because you will be able to put your trust in someone who has obtained results in the past, and can shoulder the burden of the process for you. And if your modification is not approved, a skilled debt management attorney can offer you alternatives for getting out of debt. Whatever your financial need, let us help.
For help getting out of financial distress, contact us at www.law-ri.com. We will help by coming up with solutions that work for you and have multiple locations to meet your needs for office visits.