Written by Canterbury Law Group

How Bankruptcy Can Help With Foreclosure

How Much Does It Cost To File For Bankruptcy

When confronted with foreclosure, many debtors file for bankruptcy—and with reason. By filing for bankruptcy, a debtor can obtain what is known as an automatic stay. During the bankruptcy case, the stay serves as an injunction, or bar, prohibiting creditors from attempting to collect debts or enforce liens.

In some instances, a debtor is not entitled to the automatic stay, or the lender successfully petitions the court to lift the automatic stay. Whether you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy determines whether the foreclosure process is halted temporarily or permanently.

The Process of Foreclosure

When you purchase a home, you agree that if you fall behind on your monthly payments (default on the loan), the lender has the right to sell the property at auction and apply the proceeds to your loan balance. Prior to the house being auctioned, the lender must follow the foreclosure procedures outlined in federal and state law.

After the federal and state waiting periods for homeowners to catch up on arrearages or apply for a loss mitigation program (such as a mortgage modification) have expired, the lender may proceed with foreclosure in accordance with state foreclosure laws.

A lender may foreclose in one of two ways, depending on state law:

Foreclosure through the courts. All states permit lenders to foreclose through a “judicial” process that begins with the bank filing a court lawsuit. The homeowner has the option of responding to and defending the suit. The case will be litigated, and if the bank prevails, the court will order the home sold at auction.

Foreclosure without judicial intervention. Certain states permit lenders to use a streamlined “nonjudicial” foreclosure procedure that entails following state-mandated steps. The bank is frequently required to allow the homeowner time to bring the account current. Additionally, the lender must notify the owner of the sale date and, in some cases, publish the sale date via newspaper advertisement or public posting. Following completion of the steps, the lender may sell the home at auction without first obtaining court approval.

As long as the foreclosure sale has not occurred, filing for bankruptcy will halt either type of foreclosure process.

Can Bankruptcy Help With Foreclosure?

Yes, bankruptcy can help with foreclosure. In fact, it’s one of the most effective ways to stop a foreclosure and save your home.

When you file for bankruptcy, an automatic stay goes into effect immediately. This stay stops all creditors from taking any collection action against you, including foreclosure proceedings. This means that your lender cannot continue with the foreclosure process until the bankruptcy case is resolved.

There are two main types of bankruptcy that homeowners can file for: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy: Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a liquidation bankruptcy, which means that your non-exempt assets will be sold to repay your creditors. However, your home is exempt from liquidation in most states, so you may be able to keep your home even if you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy: Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a reorganization bankruptcy, which means that you will create a repayment plan to pay back your creditors over a period of 3-5 years. If you are able to successfully complete your Chapter 13 repayment plan, you will be able to keep your home and eliminate any remaining debt.

Whether Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy is the best option for you will depend on your individual circumstances. It is important to speak with a bankruptcy attorney to discuss your options and get advice on how to best proceed.

Here are some of the benefits of filing for bankruptcy to stop foreclosure:

  • It can stop the foreclosure process immediately.
  • It can give you time to get on your feet financially and catch up on your mortgage payments.
  • It may allow you to keep your home, even if you are behind on your mortgage payments.
  • It can eliminate other debt, such as credit card debt and medical debt, which can make it easier to afford your mortgage payments.

However, it is important to note that bankruptcy is a serious financial decision and should not be taken lightly. Filing for bankruptcy will have a negative impact on your credit score and can make it difficult to obtain new loans in the future.

When the Automatic Stay Is Inapplicable

The stay is automatically triggered upon filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. There is no additional action required to bring the automatic stay into effect. (For more information, see Bankruptcy’s Automatic Stay.)

There are, however, two exceptions to the automatic stay that prohibit debtors from interfering with a creditor’s right to foreclose by filing and dismissing successive bankruptcy cases. The following are the rules.

Within the last year, one previous bankruptcy case was dismissed. The automatic stay is only in effect for 30 days following your bankruptcy filing.

Two or more previously dismissed bankruptcy cases within the last year. The automatic stay is not invoked at all.

Debtors who qualify for the automatic stay exceptions may petition the bankruptcy court to impose the automatic stay and halt the foreclosure. To prevail, the debtor must establish beyond a reasonable doubt (a relatively high standard) that the previous bankruptcy cases were not filed in bad faith.

The automatic stay exceptions for repeat or serial filers do not apply if you initially filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 7 but then converted to Chapter 13 after the means test determined that your income was too high to qualify for Chapter 7.

How the Automatic Stay Can Aid in Foreclosure Prevention

The automatic stay extends the time period available to attempt to resolve a pending foreclosure. The options for dealing with an impending foreclosure are largely dependent on whether you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy under Chapter 7

Chapter 7 bankruptcy does not include a mechanism to assist you in catching up on payments and retaining your home. Therefore, if you’re falling behind and wish to remain in your home, this is probably not the chapter for you. However, there are additional advantages.

When you file for bankruptcy under Chapter 7, all of your property becomes part of the bankruptcy estate. The Chapter 7 trustee appointed to your case will liquidate (sell) your assets and make any necessary payments to creditors. The automatic stay allows the trustee to sell property that would have been foreclosed on otherwise if there is a potential benefit to the estate (the property must have sufficient equity).

Depending on your circumstances, the stay may also be beneficial to you:

If the property is your primary residence, the stay may provide you with additional time to secure alternative housing or negotiate a loan modification with the lender.

You may be entitled to a portion of the proceeds if the trustee sells the property for a sufficient price. After resolving any mortgages or other valid liens, the trustee must reimburse you for your homestead exemption before resolving any other creditors. Additionally, you are entitled to excess proceeds if the property sells for a price sufficient to pay off all of your creditors.

Bankruptcy under Chapter 13

The automatic stay in Chapter 13 bankruptcy may provide you with time to catch up on any mortgage arrears and remain in your home. You’ll repay debts (some in full, some in part) over a three- to five-year period—including delinquent mortgage payments.

To make Chapter 13 restructuring effective, you must have sufficient income to cover current mortgage payments and make payments on arrearages that accrued prior to filing bankruptcy. Once the court approves a Chapter 13 repayment plan that includes mortgage arrears, the lender is prohibited from foreclosing. However, if you fall behind on mortgage or arrearage payments following the approval of your plan, the lender will be able to proceed with the foreclosure.

Removal of the Automatic Stay

A lender may file a motion with the bankruptcy court requesting that the automatic stay be lifted (terminated) and the lender be permitted to proceed with foreclosure. You have the right to respond, and if you do, the bankruptcy court will hold a hearing before deciding whether to lift the stay. If the court lifts the stay, the lender may resume foreclosure efforts, unless the bankruptcy court orders otherwise.

Speak With Our Bankruptcy Lawyers In Phoenix & Scottsdale

Canterbury Law Group should be your first choice for any bankruptcy evaluation. Our experienced professionals will work with you to obtain the best possible outcome. You can on the firm to represent you well so you can move on with your life. Call today for an initial consultation. We can assist with all types of bankruptcies including Business BankruptcyChapter 7 BankruptcyCreditor RepresentationChapter 5 ClaimsChapter 13 Bankruptcy, Business RestructuringChapter 11 Bankruptcy, and more.

*This information is not intended to be legal advice. Please contact Canterbury Law Group today to learn more about your personal legal needs.

Written by Canterbury Law Group

Will I Get a $1,000 Check from the Coronavirus Stimulus Package?

Government Stimulus Check Coronavirus

Will I get money from the Coronavirus Bail-Out/Stimulus Bill? Right now, Democrats and Republicans are battling over the specific provisions of the Coronavirus Stimulus Plan.  President Trump proposed a plan that would provide $250 Billion in Direct Payments to Americans.  The debate centers on the timing of payments and whether the payments should be a set amount or be flexible based on circumstances.

Government Stimulus Check Requirements

To complicate things further Sen. Bernie Sanders is pushing for modifications that would provide for payments of $2,000 per month to every American over 18.  While it is doubtful that Sanders’ proposed changes will be adopted, as the Bill stands right now, you would receive:

  • $1,200 if you are single and made no more than $75,000 as shown on your 2018 Federal Tax Return;
  • $2,400 per couple if you and your spouse filed as “Married Filing Jointly” and your combined income as shown on your 2018 Tax Return was no more than $150,000.

These payments reduce to zero as your reported income goes to $99,000 individually or $198,000 per couple.  Additionally, eligible families with children will receive $500 per child.  These payments are part of a bailout that also includes:

  • $50 Billion to Bail-Out the Airline Industry;
  • $150 Billion for other affected industries; and
  • Provisions for payments to Small Businesses.

Make Sure You Get Your Government Stimulus Check

This Bill is evolving and can change.  Contact the Business Lawyers at Canterbury Law Group so we can help you get all the help you are entitled to under this and any subsequent Coronavirus relief.

Written by Canterbury Law Group

Tips on Filing for Bankruptcy

Many people opt to file for bankruptcy when their income isn’t sufficient to repay creditors. Certain types of bankruptcy filings can lead to elimination of at least some or all debt and a halt for collection calls. While bankruptcy can be devastating emotionally, it does have many benefits. If you are planning on applying for bankruptcy, here are several useful tips to know about:

Learn About the Different Types of Bankruptcy

There are several different types of bankruptcy. The two main types many people know about are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Chapter 7 eliminates virtually all debt, especially from unsecured loans. Chapter 13 is used to come up with a court-approved plan to partially repay all debt in 3 to 5 years. You will have to learn about what each type entails and which type of bankruptcy is best suited for you. Before you file your case, you will have to learn about the law a bit first.

Hire a Lawyer

It’s virtually impossible to file for bankruptcy without a lawyer. The body of law in this area is muddled and complicated so you will really need an experienced attorney. Hire a lawyer from the county you live in, for example a bankruptcy attorney in Scottsdale. It’s best to consult with an attorney before you decide to proceed with a court filing. Your attorney will tell you how to fill out the legal documents and what evidence to present in court. Attorneys are necessary because, in some cases, creditors have the right to sue you back. A lawyer may be able to intervene and reduce the risk of this.

Understand Your State Laws

Bankruptcy law differs from state to state. How many of your assets you can keep, or how much debt will be discharged will depend on the law in your state. Therefore, it’s very important that you understand the rules and guidelines set forth in the state of your residence. You can get expert help too. For example, you can ask a local bankruptcy lawyer in Scottsdale for state laws in Arizona.

Bankruptcy Does Not Get Everyone off the Hook for Debt

Filing for bankruptcy often removes the obligation of a single debtor to a creditor. This does not apply to others responsible for the same debt, such as the other joint account holder or a co-signer. If there’s credit card debt, then all the people formally responsible for that account will have to pay. When you file for bankruptcy, the other person could end up being solely responsible for the debt. You may want to think in advance to avoid this scenario. Ask your lawyer for the best course of action.

Inform All the Creditors

You will have to inform all your creditors that you are filing for bankruptcy, not just the creditors responsible for the overwhelming debts. In some states, it’s required by law. When you are in the process for filing for bankruptcy, you must inform all debt collection callers of the situation and provide the name of the attorney handling the case so the calls can stop.

Bankruptcy need not be expensive and emotionally draining. Follow the above tips to make it less so.

Written by Canterbury Law Group

Tips to Avoid Losing Money in the New Year

The Scottsdale lawyers at Canterbury Law Group are authorities in bankruptcy matters.   As we enter the New Year, we realize that many Scottsdale residents are trying to improve their financial affairs. Unfortunately the world is full of opportunities for you to give up your hard-earned money unwisely. Becoming an informed consumer is a big step toward avoiding these minefields—and developing the financial power that will keep you out of debt troubles.

Here are some tips for today on how to avoid money traps.

Avoid the “Free” Trial Offer – Ever wonder why businesses are willing to offer that free trial? Sure, it may build customer loyalty and maybe you’ll happily become a repeat buyer. But companies know that many of us will never read the fine print and the vendors typically make no attempt to remind us when the free period is over. Instead your “free” subscription or service converts to a paid one. You are left with an unwanted monthly expense and now they have a steady revenue stream.  It is often challenging, if not impossible, to terminate these subscriptions.

Skip upgrades and add-ons – Upgrades at fast food, electronics, retailers and car dealerships make for huge profits so companies really push them. To avoid this trap, do your homework. Know ahead of time what you really want. For example, quiz your insurance agent about how much your own insurance covers you in a rental car. If you later decide an extended warranty or other add-on is appropriate, fine. If not, just say NO. And stick to it.

Don’t co-sign for others – Remember,  your best friend or family member can lose their job, and when they do that car will be repossessed and the bank will be coming after you—for the entire unpaid balance.

Filing bankruptcy can seem overwhelming.  However, at Canterbury Law Group, we will represent you through the entire process and fight diligently to secure your fresh financial start. Call us today to schedule your consultation. We can put you on the path to reach financial success!