How Bad is Bankruptcy Really?

How Bad is Bankruptcy Really?

Filing for bankruptcy means telling the judge that you cannot pay off your debts. After this is done, the court checks your assets and liabilities then decides if you are eligible to have your debts cancelled or discharged. If it is seen that you have no means to pay back, they let you declare bankruptcy. When this is filed, you become immune to foreclosure on repossession of your property, home, or other wages. When this is successfully done, the people you legally owe have no right to collect money from you temporarily. Bankruptcy cases differ and the court can tell you to pay a few debts notwithstanding. It is safe to note that bankruptcy does not cover for student loans, child support, alimony, taxes, fines, and items purchased before filing for bankruptcy like boats, houses etc.

Filing bankruptcy is not such a great idea. For starters, the process is tasking. To file for bankruptcy, you will have to

  1. Create organized paperwork listing all the debts. Each debt has its own paperwork, you would have to get a legal group like ours to run you through the process. We have a bankruptcy attorney who specializes in helping you correct errors that can get your case dismissed.
  2. A financial coach will always be suggested for you because you would have to check other options before settling for filing for bankruptcy. It is okay to call the creditors and talk about reducing the interest rate. A financial coach would also suggest things like getting another job to you, moving into a smaller and more affordable apartment.
  3. Advantage Legal Group would always offer professional help to you, the case might leave you filing a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. As an individual, this would not be clear to you and our services will always be here to guide you.

You deserve financial freedom and we can help you understand your options. Bankruptcy can tell on your emotions because, once you file for one, it becomes a public domain. Your name and personal information become easily accessible to potential clients, employers, banks, businesses and all the details of your bankruptcy will be known.

Once bankruptcy is filed, you will not be able to take loans anymore, mortgage loans can take about four to five years to qualify. The only way you could get a new home is if you decided to pay in cash.

The good side to filing a bankruptcy is that you might be allowed to retain ownership of property. Even though a bankruptcy record stays in your file for about 7-8 years, once your dischargeable debts are paid off, your record becomes clear. You will be able to move forward and rebuild your credit. Bankruptcy is always the last option to pay off debt and stop creditors from harassing you with calls, letters, etc.

If you have questions about filing bankruptcy in Washington State including Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland and Seattle, then its best to give the attorneys at Advantage Legal Group a call to discuss your financial situation.

 

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Bellevue Bankruptcy Attorney Bellevue Washington Lawyer

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What Do You Lose if You Declare Bankruptcy?

What Do You Lose if You Declare Bankruptcy?

Before you finally go to the judge or court to file for bankruptcy, the major worry to have is what you stand to lose. It might be your house, property, a potential job, or client as the record of your bankruptcy is available to public access. Bankruptcy is the last resort when the debt starts to choke you and the creditors endlessly harass you with unwanted calls and letters. Filing for bankruptcy leaves you at a temporary discharge from the creditors but what does it do to your credit record? What do you stand to lose after the judge approves your case?

Losing your property depends on how well you understand chapter 7 and chapter 13 when filing a bankruptcy. Chapter 7 will require that you sell some of your assets to pay off a part of the debt. The law guarding chapter 7 can be better explained to you by one of our attorney lawyers at Advantage Legal Group. This is called the liquidation and some of your property would be taken with exemption to retirement accounts, car, and house. This also allows you to relieve your debt by surrendering some of the assets belonging to you. This is meant for people with limited incomes and that is why the property is not taken. Companies and individuals can file this, and the discharge takes about three to five months to be received.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy involves the court giving you a repayment plan which protects your property if you successfully complete this plan. When this payment is completed, and some creditors are laid off, the court discharges other bills like the credit card and medical bills. This allows you as a debtor to keep your property and catch up on missed mortgage and cars. Chapter 13 allows the individual to make monthly payments for three to five years. This will require you to sell off some property to pay off debts.

The bankruptcy rules differ from state to state and there are set limits for trustees and what you can keep are within these limits called personal bankruptcy exemptions. Being able to keep your property depends on the pay you make monthly to your creditor. You can always keep your property, but it does not stop you from always falling behind on credit cards. The decision to sell your house is personal and would not be blamed on the creditor. It is natural to worry about your family and house and what you need is a financial coach or legal group like Advantage Legal Groups for consultation and advice. To avoid such fear over losing your property, chapter 7 serves as the best option for immediate debt relief.

No one wants to lose their property as what we all need is financial freedom. Our help runs from businesses to individuals and families, this is the right time to contact us if you are in Washington state including Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland, and Seattle. Let us assist you in a difficult time as this one.

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How Far Behind Do I Have to Be For Mortgage Forbearance?

How Far Behind Do I Have to Be For Mortgage Forbearance?

Under normal circumstances, there are policies owned by all lenders, and that is what you should be working with. However, if you are finding it difficult paying you mortgages either due to lose of job or increase in costs. There is a 15-day grace period, and if you are able to meet up and make payment, you are all good but if you happen to miss your second payment, it is said that you have defaulted and you should expect a change in your mortgage servicer.

Once you have noticed that you won’t be able to meet up with your payment, it is advisable to contact your lender and discuss mortgage forbearance.

MORTGAGE FORBEARANCE

This is an official agreement between the home owner (you) and the lender, if for any reason you are unable to pay your monthly mortgage amount. Your payment requirements will be frozen by the lender for a period of time. After the agreed period elapses, you are expected to continue your normal monthly payments and you will also pay back all balance owed, including all interests gathered during your grace period. This sounds like a great deal especially to those who have lost their jobs during this Coronavirus crisis, it helps you skip some or all of your monthly mortgage payment for as much as a year. But it should be considered as your last resorts, and should be avoided if possible because while it can be a life line for a short period, it will undoubtedly lead to credit issues.

More: Is Mortgage Forbearance a Good Idea?

HOW TO WORK WITH YOUR LENDER TO GET FORBEARANCE

STEP 1: REACH OUT

Contact your lender and inform them about your present crisis financial state. Some of them have online chat options or a forbearance form you can use also. Some key information and documentation will be needed by your lender, so be prepared to provide these:
• An outline of your financial state, also the cause of the financial issues and when you think all be fixed back to normal.
• Mortgage loan or your account number
• Your monthly income before taxes
• Monthly expenses clearly itemized

Remember, that your lender wants you to keep your home and keep paying your mortgage so they will do their best to help, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

STEP 2: REQUEST

The lender must follow some steps before granting you the forbearance agreement. They might ask you to make some deductions on your monthly expenses, if they notice some things that are not needed on your list; you should be able to explain to them why those things cannot be removed from your list, you will also prove that you are making efforts to get a new paying job.

STEP 3: SUBMIT

Your lender will want to confirm your financial crisis, provide them with your unemployment verification letter with detailed information. Follow up your lender until a negotiator or loan officer is assigned to your account, which you will work with till the end of the process.

STEP 4: WAIT

After you are assigned with a negotiator, you have to wait for approval, sometimes it takes several weeks but ensure you follow up with your negotiator to show that you are serious with your request.

STEP 5: RECEIVE

Once you are approved, a letter with detailed terms of the agreement will be drafted by the negotiator, with the forbearance period time frame, amount to be paid during that period, the interest rate of the amount owed and how to repay the outstanding balance after the period.

STEP 6: SIGN AND RETURN

If you are satisfied with the terms, sign the agreement form and return to the lender. Your forbearance period has commenced after submission. After this period your payments return to normal, with an additional payment to cover your outstanding balance.

Assuming you fail to meet up with the terms of forbearance, your home will likely go into foreclosure. This is the last step before you lose ownership of your home.

For legal advice and consultation,  as well as information regarding mortgage modification or mortgage mediation services Please give us a call for a free consultation to discuss your specific financial challenges during this difficult time. You can reach us at 425-452-9797 

 

Can I Claim Forbearance 4 Months Into COVID-19?

Can I Claim Forbearance 4 Months Into COVID-19?

The whole world is facing a pandemic that is not just making life different for all of us but it is equally causing major financial problems for some individuals. Individuals and countries are facing financial hardship in this coronavirus crisis. Forbearance is when your lender or mortgage servicer allows you to temporarily pay your mortgage at a lower payment or pause paying your payment. You can be able to make the paused payment later.

During this period, the lender or servicer won’t enforce a foreclosure. The terms of a forbearance payment differ from lender to lender. If an unplanned hardship makes you fall behind on your payment of a mortgage, an agreement based on forbearance might be compassionate enough to allow you to hold off the payment until your situation gets better. The lender can also extend the time of the payment if you haven’t resolved your financial issue at the estimated time of the forbearance payment.

It is no fault of yours that the coronavirus is affecting you financially and your servicer or lender understands that and would also give you more time prior to what’s on the mortgage payment agreement. The thing is that putting off the mortgage payment and claiming forbearance might currently not be the best option right now, as it might pose to be a problem for you in the near future.

Related: Is Mortgage Forbearance a Good Idea?

The lender or servicer might ask that you pay off all the debt at once and this would be draining to your pocket. In order to still be able to claim forbearance 4 months into COVID-19, you would have to show proof to your bank or lender to show that you are still financially unstable. You can also opt into the CARES Act that was signed in on March 27. If you can’t make payments, it’s best to call your lender also but at this time reaching your lenses might be hard due to financial overload. The CARES act lets you still pause your mortgage payment six months into the signed agreement. Another six months can be added to your already paused months if you ask for it. As long as you keep reaching out to your lender, you can still claim forbearance.

For legal advice and consultation,  as well as information regarding mortgage modification or mortgage mediation services Please give us a call for a free consultation to discuss your specific financial challenges during this difficult time. You can reach us at 425-452-9797 

Should I Hire a Lawyer to Help with Mortgage Mediation

Should I Hire a Lawyer to Help with Mortgage Mediation

Foreclosure Defense Help with a Mortgage Mediation Attorney

Do you need a lawyer to help with mortgage mediation? This is a common question we get nearly every week and if you’re struggling to pay your mortgage based on job loss or some other economical setback, you might consider applying for a loan modification. You’ll need to decide if it’s worth paying for an attorney to help you with this process. You can apply for a mortgage modification on your own but many lenders may not even discuss this with you without the help of an attorney. Many lenders or banks, whoever has your mortgage, may have their own rules.

A loan modification is a permanent restructuring of your mortgage where your lender can change the terms so that it’s more affordable. They may be able to reduce the interest rate, convert a variable or adjustable interest rate to a fixed one, forbear some of the principal balance or extend the term of the loan. For instance, if you need to take three months off, they may be able to attack those three months onto the end of the mortgage.

It’s also important to know that if Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac is the one that owns your loan you might qualify for a flex modification which is a special loan program.

Typically, you’ll need to submit an application to your lender along with certain documents like pay stubs, bank statements, and proof that your income has decreased. It’s also important to contact your lender and ask them about their rulings when it comes to mortgage modification and if there needs to be a mediator.

A mortgage modification attorney can obviously explain all of the details behind this type of modification. Depending on your individual circumstances, a lawyer may recommend pursuing a modification, fighting the foreclosure, or putting the property up for sale in a short sale or deed in lieu of foreclosure. These are different options that a lawyer can definitely explain.

Mortgage modification paperwork can also be extensive. A lender can help you fill out the application, explain what documentation you need to submit with the application, and how to explain your financial hardship.

Foreclosure Defense mortgage mediation attorney real estate lawyer

Because we are in Washington state, we have the Washington Foreclosure Fairness Act. This is specifically for Washington state and provides homeowners with an alternative to the frustrating and endless mortgage modification process. If you have a national lender they may not understand this process and may quickly disregard so having an attorney that understands the process, your rights, and how Washington homeowners are different than the rest of the country, really makes a lot of sense.

An attorney will also help you if your loan servicer violates federal or state loss mitigation laws. If they are forcing you to foreclose before 120 days after you’ve default on the loan, you need a lawyer in your court that can help enforce your rights. It’s extremely difficult to get your home back after a completed foreclosure so having an attorney on your side gives you a better chance of getting the results you want.

Give us a call today to learn more about loan modification and if you need a mortgage mediator. We’d be happy to discuss issues over the phone and move forward if necessary.

More: Will a loan modification lower our payments?

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Foreclosure Defense and Mortgage Mediation in Bellevue, Seattle and Washington State 

In the following video that aired on King 5 New Day show Attorney Jonathan Smith talks about Mortgage Mediation and Foreclosure Defense for Washington State homeowners facing foreclosure on their Northwest home in Bellevue, Seattle, Federal Way, Redmond, Kirkland, Issaquah, Sammamish or Western Washington.

 

Will Bankruptcy Forgive Student Loans?

Will Bankruptcy Forgive Student Loans?

Will student loans ever be forgiven during bankruptcy? The answer is: PERHAPS! President Obama spoke to the Georgia Institute of Technology recently on March 10, saying that his administration is looking into the idea. He revealed that he’d ordered officials to look into whether or not making student loans forgivable during bankruptcy would be helpful to millions of Americans who are under the burden of severe student debt.

The White House has made a series of efforts to alleviate student debt in America and student loan forgiveness during bankruptcy is the latest. Currently, bankruptcy laws protect student debt by being wiped away by a bankruptcy filing. However, with the tremendous, crippling weight of student loans, lawmakers are seeking new, flexible ways to students from a future trajectory of financial hardship. The goal is to make college more affordable for young people so that once they graduate, they aren’t so burdened with debt that they can’t do anything else.

The WSJ offered the following numbers on U.S. student debts:

  • -In the last seven years, U.S. student debt has more than doubled.
  • -Almost 25% of current borrowers are behind on their payments.
  • – The average student loan debt nationwide is right below $30K.
  • -The government lends 90% of the national student debt.

In his speech, President Obama offered only a few first ideas and details of this effort. It wasn’t clear whether or not an eventual proposal would address only loans issued by the Federal Government, or would also somehow affect private loans as well, such as those issued by firms like Wells Fargo & Co. and the like.

Obviously, the president’s interest in changing bankruptcy law is still in its formative stages, but even if the White House did come up with a change, it would likely face huge opposition in the Republican-controlled Congress. As the WSJ also reports, it is still unclear how effective changing bankruptcy law would be in really helping borrowers anyway. They report that only 713 bankruptcy filings in 2014 were filed to seek student loan relief.

Get the latest video above.

Unique and Strange Real Estate Terms

Unique and Strange Real Estate Terms

These real estate and property terms are used quite a bit but many people have no idea what they actually mean. If you’re considering investing in real estate, selling or buying your first property, here are some key terms you should know.

APR – this stands for the annual percentage rate but you may also see it as APRC, which stands for the annual percentage rate of change, and is the entire total cost of the loan including interest charges and other fees. This is important to know when comparing other mortgage rates and terms.

Conveyancing – this simply stands for the legal work involved in buying and selling real estate.

Disbursements – This is the act of paying out or dispersing money, typically to the seller, real estate agents and other parties involved in a real estate transaction.

Gazumping – This odd term stands for when a seller accepts a higher price than what was previously agreed upon with another buyer. Another technical term would be to “swindle” somewhat and it’s usually the seller raising the contracted price of the property after having accepted a lower offer from another buyer.

Ombudsman – Again, if any term that stands for an official or person appointed to investigate individuals complaints on behalf of customers against real estate agents, escrow companies, and insurance companies.

Vendor – This is typically used as the legal name to describe the seller of the property or the real estate.

Freehold – a freehold is ownership of the property and/or land.

Real estate agents often shorten their descriptions of a property in order to get as many characters in the description area as possible. Too many homebuyers, they may simply look like letters that mean nothing to them in actuality. Here are some of the most common abbreviations you’re going to find in a real estate description.

1. BICC – Built in China Cabinets

2. Detached GH – Detached Guest House

3. FR. DRS – French Doors

4. FROG – Family Room Over Garage

5. FP – Fireplace

6. HDW – Hardwood Floors

7. Bb – Baseboard heat

8. CH/BW – Chain Link or barbed wire fence

9. d/w – Dishwasher

10. EIK – Eat-In Kitchen

Bedrooms and Bathrooms are also usually abbreviated like Bd and Ba and Living Room is sometimes shortened to LR or FM (Family Room). [Source]

Trying to keep all these terms in mind when searching through listings can be daunting but that’s what I’m here for! For mortgage modification or mediation, bankruptcy attorneys or information on the Washington State Fairness Act, contact me anytime.

More:

How to Buy a Foreclosure

What to Expect in a Bank-Owned Home

If you sell, be prepared for the home inspection

How the Foreclosure Fairness Act Works for You

How the Foreclosure Fairness Act Works for You

The number of foreclosure listings in Washington State and all over the country is on the rise again, but there is hope as many homeowners have made it possible to hold on to their home through the Washington State Foreclosure Fairness Act.

The Washington State Foreclosure Fairness Act is little known by both homeowners and employees of mortgage holders. To have this protection work for you it is best to hire an attorney.

What many homeowners are unaware of is that there are many different modification programs they may be able to qualify for. These programs include the HAMP Tier 1, the HAMP Tier 2, the HAMP Standard, FHA Modifications, VA Modifications, Non-GSC Modifications, modifications that mirror HAMP, internal modifications, the National Settlement Act, Washington State Settlement with pick a payment program and much more.

There are many lawsuits against banks in the courts today for failure to adhere to these settlement programs. The problem lies with banks not telling homeowners about these programs or not even considering homeowners for these many various modification opportunities.

It is very important to know where the mortgage on your home stands and who is the actual owner of the loan on your home. Many people are unaware that the bank processing their payments may not actually own the loan. Where your loan is actually owned determines what modification programs you are eligible to apply for.

The Washington State Foreclosure Fairness Act allows a counselor or lawyer to work on your behalf to stop the foreclosure process while you try to apply for a qualifying loan modification. This law allows for a slow down of 6 to 9 months on the foreclosure process and gives time for legal help to find who owns the loan and just what programs you qualify for and your rights as a homeowner.

It is impossible to make any headway with the Washington State Foreclosure Fairness Act on your own as the program is set up for you to work through a housing counselor or attorney. The program sets up a series of mediation with the county through the Washington State Dept. of Commerce.

In many cases, you can lower your payments through a qualifying modification program. In some cases, payments may go up but interest rates can greatly lower without extending the term of your mortgage. Each case is determined by the income of the homeowner.

Related: Getting Mortgage Approval After a Loan Modification

If you are facing foreclosure and feel unheard please contact Advantage Legal Group immediately! We offer free consultations. Don’t settle for the bank telling you you will have to short sale or settle for a deed in lieu. Let us take a look at your case or free first.

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Filing for Bankruptcy

Filing for Bankruptcy - When, How, & Why

Filing for Bankruptcy – When, How, & Why

Determining if you Qualify for Bankruptcy

Individuals file personal bankruptcy because there is financial relief needed and they seek a second start.  If you feel there is no way out of your debt troubles and these debt troubles are regular occurrences, filing bankruptcy may be your best option.

  • Debt troubles a regular occurrence
  • You fear to lose your home/facing home foreclosure
  • Wage garnishment has been assigned to paychecks
  • Laid off/ job problems
  • Medical crisis to your family
  • Creditor harassment
  • Recent divorce
  • Lawsuit pending

To Qualify for Bankruptcy there are steps you must take.

1)      Attend a court-approved financial counseling course

2)      Figure out if your monthly income is more or less than the median income in your state.

One way to Qualifying for the bankruptcy means test:

Current monthly income minus expenses

Times that by 60 to get your result

If your result is more than 25% = $10,000

Less than 25%=$6,000 or less

3400-2000= 1400

1400* 60 = 84000*.25 = 21000 (File for chapter 13)

3400-3000= 400

400*60=24000*.25 = 6000 (File for chapter 7)

3a)   If Income is more than median income then you can file a 5-year chapter 13 bankruptcy

3b)   If Income is less than median income then you can file a chapter 7 bankruptcy

4)   Get a discharge from your bankruptcy through an approved Credit Counseling Course.

A Chapter 7 bankruptcy or a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy can help you overcome problems.  Learn more about what filing a Bankruptcy can do to help you in Bankruptcy 101

If you are at risk of losing your home due to foreclosure, mortgage mediation and modification might be your best solution. Contact us anytime to learn more information about Western Washington mortgage mediation, the fairness act, and how to avoid foreclosure.

Related: What if I Can’t Make My Mortgage Payment?

Advantage Legal Group is a financial debt relief law firm based our of Bellevue and Federal Way Washington and provides legal, bankruptcy and foreclosure defense services throughout Western Washington including Bellevue, Seattle, Redmond, Kirkland, Sammamish, Issaquah, Bothell, Woodinville, Lynnwood, Everett, Renton, North Bend, Auburn, Kent, Covington, Tacoma, Olympia, Federal Way, Des Moines, Seatac, Burien, West Seattle, Edmonds, and Western Washington in King County, Snohomish County, and Pierce County.

Bankruptcy or Foreclosure Looming?

Bankruptcy or Foreclosure Looming?

Bankruptcy or Foreclosure Looming?

Let The Washington Foreclosure Fairness Act Help you!

New Mortgage Foreclosure Program for the State of Washington.

A little known Mortgage foreclosure program went into effect in Washington State in 2011.  It is called the Washington foreclosure fairness act (FFA).  This program is for you if you need help paying your mortgage and need to renegotiate with your lender!  This program was designed to help homeowners facing foreclosure and lenders to reach a resolution about foreclosures.

The Washington foreclosure fairness act also helps homeowners in that it requires lenders to notify “borrowers” before the foreclosure process of the possibilities of counseling and mediation.

You need a referral by a Housing Counselor or an Attorney to use the Washington foreclosure fairness act program!  The reason for this is so that you will have representation when you sit down with the lender’s attorneys.  When you are referred to the program, you will then be in the Mediation process.  This process can be a very timely solution for you and your lender’s problems with the right people to support you.  Having a knowledgeable law firm like Advantage Legal Group on your side can help you find your best option in a timely matter.

Related: 4 Ways to Raise Your Credit Score in 6 Months

Stopping the foreclosure process.

Once you are in the mediation process for the Washington foreclosure fairness act program the foreclosure process halts!  You must act in “good faith” to stay in the mediation process.  You and your legal representative will go through the mediation with your lender and their legal representative.  The mediator will aid both sides to come up with a plan that will benefit both parties.

Remember, that if at any time the mediator believes you are not acting in “good faith,” your mediation can be canceled and your lender can proceed with a foreclosure.  Your legal counsel will help you to know what you need to do.  Examples of not acting in good faith: not turning in the appropriate paperwork on time, not paying the mediation fee on time, and not responding to e-mails or calls from the mediator.

Other Important Information

Free Seminars, Free Consultations, and Informative Videos!

If you have been thinking about bankruptcy or you are seeing a foreclosure in your future check out Advantage Legal Group to help with your legal options.  Advantage Legal Group offers free seminars in the Seattle/ Puget Sound area.  These free seminars cover legal options all the way from Foreclosure Defense Strategies, Mortgage Mediation, Deed in lieu of Foreclosure, Mortgage Modification, Short Sales, to the Washington State Foreclosure Fairness Act.  Attend these free seminars in Bellevue, Lynnwood, or Tacoma.  Attendees also learn about their legal options for their specific financial situation.  You are under no obligation to do anything by attending the seminar.  After the seminar, if you choose, you can schedule a free consultation with Seattle Bankruptcy Attorney Jonathan Smith to discuss even more specific their financial situations.

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