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Considering a Loan Modification? Consider Bankruptcy Instead

September 25, 2010 Featured News, Finance No Comments
bankcuptcy-home for sale

Bankruptcy and Loan Modification - Keep your home and avoid foreclosure

The crash of the housing bubble has left many homeowners in homes that are now not worth what was paid for them. The current economic crisis and rise in unemployment are leaving many homeowners with mortgages they cannot afford for houses that they cannot sell.

As a result, there has been a rise in loan modification programs. Loan modifications sound appealing because of the promise to work with the lender to lower payments, allowing the distressed homeowner to keep their home and avoid foreclosure.

These programs are often nothing more than scams, however. In such circumstances, Chapter 13 bankruptcy may offer you the best option of keeping your home and reducing payments.

Loan Modification Scams

While not everyone that is offering to help you with a loan modification is a scammer or has a dishonest intent, many do. According to NeighborWorks’ Loan Modification Scam Alert website, there are six “red flags” to indicate that you may be working with a loan modification scammer. Those are:

- Advance fee — in this instance you run the risk of the company pocketing your money and doing little to nothing to help you

- Guarantee to stop foreclosure or guarantee to get loan modified — a legitimate loan modification company will only promise to work their best on your behalf

- Advised to stop paying mortgage — do not send your mortgage payment to anyone other than you lender

- Asked to sign over your deed — do not sign over the deed to your home, nor should you ever be pressured into signing papers you have not read

- Company claims “government-approved” or “official government” modifications — if this claim is made, contact your lender they can tell you if you are eligible for a government programs that prevent foreclosure

- Asked to release personal information to a company you are unfamiliar with — only give personal information to companies that you are working with and trust

Along with the six red flags above, you should be weary of lease-back (rent-to-own) programs.

There are other factors that should be considered with loan modifications.

-Often times, the lender or the loan modifying company are unresponsive to borrower needs and questions.

- If the principal of the loan is reduced, the IRS may consider this taxable income and saddle the borrower with a tax bill .

Benefits of Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

While a loan modification may seem like a way out of your current situation, a modification may just leave you in a worse position than you started, including being homeless because you signed your deed away. However, there may be a better option for those in need of mortgage help who want to keep their homes — Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Titled in the Bankruptcy code as “the wage earners’ bankruptcy,” Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a way for those who have a regular source of income to reorganize their debt into a manageable monthly payment. Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows debtors to reschedule their debt and make payments to creditors over a three- to five-year period, with the discharge of the remaining debt at the end of the repayment period.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy may be a help for most homeowners who are facing foreclosure and/or passed due mortgage payments, because filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy will stop the foreclosure process. Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows debtors to include their mortgage payment arrears with the other rescheduled payments. This way, debtors are given the opportunity to catch-up on any missed mortgage payments.

It should be noted that if you are in Chapter 13 bankruptcy and you get a loan modification, it may appear that your mortgage payment goes down. However, that extra money that you are “saving” will still go toward the Chapter 13 repayment . Because the money that you save may be seen by the bankruptcy court as disposable income, that extra money may be used to pay off debtors. The money saved by the loan modification may be calculated into your disposable income, thus, possibly increasing the amount of money paid to unsecured creditors.

Also, once you sign the papers for a loan modification, you will not be able to undo it.

Possible Consequences of a Loan Modification During Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

It is extremely important to discuss the possible ramifications of obtaining a loan modification while in Chapter 13 bankruptcy. While the loan modification may seem like a logical way to “save” money or “lower” payments, there are many unforeseen consequences that the lender may not discuss with you or may not fully understand. The possible consequences may include:

-Monthly payment plans may go up as to avoid creating disposable income

-Mortgage arrears that were being paid through the Chapter 13 repayment plan may be placed on the “back” of the mortgage, which will increase the amount of interest to be paid as the mortgage balance has increased

-The portion of the monthly Chapter 13 payment that was used to pay mortgage arrears may be used to repay unsecured creditors, possibly increasing the percent paid to unsecured creditors

If you are considering a loan modification, speak with an attorney to discuss and learn about all of your options, including bankruptcy, BEFORE beginning the lengthy and time consuming process of modifying your home loan. An experienced bankruptcy attorney can talk with you about your situation and possible options that you have so that you can make an informed decision about your future.

Article provided by Chang & Diamond, APC

Do I Really Need a Lawyer to File Bankruptcy? The Fees Sound So High!

September 23, 2010 Featured News, Finance No Comments
Debt Consolidation

Debt Consolidation or Bankruptcy

You don’t have to have an attorney to file anything. You always have the option of representing yourself in any matter. If you are fairly familiar with the bankruptcy process and have a pretty simple, straightforward case, you might consider this avenue, but for most people it is not the best idea. Bankruptcy lawyers usually charge a flat fee starting in the neighborhood of $1,800 and up. When you are considering bankruptcy, this sounds like a huge fee and makes the “do-it-yourself” route look more attractive, but when you consider that your entire financial future is at stake, calling in an expert starts to make more sense.

Most attorneys will offer a free consultation. Before you decide to represent yourself, do a little lawyer shopping. A good attorney will tell you if bankruptcy is in your best interest or not, whether you should wait to file or file immediately, and also whether your case is so simple that perhaps a document preparer might be a better fit for you as opposed to an attorney. A document preparer can prepare your bankruptcy petition for you but cannot give you legal advice. For this service you would likely part with only a few hundred dollars.

When you are consultation shopping, don’t immediately hire the lawyer who charges the lowest flat rate. Take note of how the attorney and his or her staff treat you. Are you treated like a number? Are your calls answered or returned? Can the lawyer explain the fee to you and what it does and does not cover? In our office, our fee covers the filing fee you would have to pay the court to file your case whether you prepared your own documents or not, the cost of the debtor education classes you are required by law to take, and a few other incidental costs you would also incur on your own. Once you know what you would be paying for, can the attorney give you a timeline? Is he or she willing to answer your questions? The minute you start to feel less like a person and more like a potential source of revenue for an attorney, run! There is no shortage of bankruptcy attorneys out there, but not all of them make an effort to care about you as a person, your personal situation and goals and how bankruptcy can facilitate or undermine what you are trying to achieve.

At the end of the day, it is your life and your money. How you choose to spend it is up to you. While you probably don’t need to hire the most expensive attorney in your area, keep in mind that in the law, like in other service areas, you do tend to get what you pay for. With that in mind, think carefully about what is important to you and why you are filing for bankruptcy in the first place. Better to do it right the first time by hiring an attorney or document preparer than by going it alone.

Article provided by Arizona Law Group of Trezza & Associates, LLC

Concerned about Divorce? There’s Insurance For That

September 22, 2010 Featured News, Finance No Comments
Divorce Insurance

One type of insurance that the majority of us do not have is divorce insurance, an insurance policy that is meant to help you pay the costs of getting a divorce

Most of us have auto insurance, health insurance and homeowner’s insurance. Some of us have umbrella insurance, disability insurance and life insurance. One type of insurance that the majority of us do not have is divorce insurance, an insurance policy that is meant to help you pay the costs of getting a divorce. But if one insurance company has anything to say about it, Americans soon will begin adding divorce insurance to the long list of other casualty insurance policies they already carry.

The Wedlock Policy

SafeGuard Guaranty Corp., an insurance company start-up based in North Carolina, recently began offering a novel product: divorce insurance. Called “Wedlock,” the insurance can be purchased in units, with each unit costing $15.99 and providing $1250 in coverage. For each year that a policyholder keeps the policy, SafeGuard will throw in an extra $250 in coverage per unit.

The policy works like this: when an insured gets a divorce, he or she simply sends in proof of the divorce and the insurance company will send them a check for the lump sum value of the policy. This money then can be used to pay attorney fees and other divorce-related expenses as well as help the new divorcee pay for housing.

To prevent people who know they will be divorcing from purchasing the insurance and cashing in, there is a 48-month waiting period before the policy matures and benefits become available. For an extra $30 per unit, individuals can purchase an “accelerated maturity rider,” which cuts down the waiting period from four years to three. Individuals also can purchase a “return of premium rider,” which allows them to recoup the money they put into the policy should they divorce before the maturity period expires.

The Chairman and CEO of SafeGuard, John Logan, has billed his product as just another policy meant to manage risk. In interviews, Logan has argued that the risk of getting a divorce is much higher than some of the other risks that Americans insure themselves against. According to SafeGuard’s web site, 32% of first marriages end within eight years and two-thirds of second marriages end within 15 years. The company’s web site also includes a divorce probability calculator so that those considering purchasing the insurance can determine if they have a “need” for it.

Better Ways to Spend Your Money

Not everyone is convinced that divorce insurance is the way to go. For example, several critics have pointed out that you don’t get very much for your money. If an individual buys 10 units, they will spend nearly $4,000 in a two-year time frame for only $12,500 worth of coverage. Many have argued that it makes more financial sense to take the money that would have been used to buy the policy and instead stick in a savings account.

Logan, however, contends that putting the money in a savings account will not yield the same return as Wedlock since SafeGuard will add an additional $250 per unit to the policy each year it remains in effect. He also says that funds in a savings account could be spent by one spouse or taken during divorce. However, insurance proceeds also can be included in the assets that are divided in a divorce, so funds kept in a Wedlock policy are not necessarily protected from inclusion in a property settlement.

In addition, the policy also is potentially risky – and not just because policyholders may never get divorced. The underwriter of Wedlock, Prime Insurance Company, currently is not covered by any state guaranty funds. This means that if the insurance company goes bankrupt, the state will not honor the policy and policyholders will be left empty-handed.

Protecting Against Divorce

For those who are truly concerned about what may happen to their assets should they divorce, the best way to protect themselves is not with an expensive insurance policy, but with a contract. By creating a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, those who are about to get married or who already are married can take proactive steps to protect themselves and their property in the event of divorce.

For more information on prenups, postnups or other issues related to divorce, contact an experienced divorce lawyer today. The attorney can discuss strategies to protect yourself, your children and your assets during marriage and afterwards.

Article provided by Short Law Firm, PC

The Tiger Woods Divorce: A Host of Issues Common to All Dissolutions

Tiger Woods Divorce

Tiger Woods and Elin filed for divorce in August

When the marriage between Eldrick Tont “Tiger” Woods and Elin Maria Pernilla Nordegren arrived at its legal end in a Bay County, Florida, courthouse in August, the media pounced on every scrap of detail it could find. When sensational circumstances lead to a divorce involving a world famous celebrity, and the parting requires the division of a great deal of wealth, the resulting attention generates more heat than light.

But for all the talk over plush New York City apartments, People magazine interviews, prenuptial terms and speculation about a marital estate worth over half a billion dollars, Tiger and Elin were subject to the same basic body of laws that any divorcing Florida couple should understand.

Obviously, every couple is entitled to a certain degree of privacy about the details of their divorce, and the Woodses kept most financial details and dirty laundry out of the public record by negotiating the precise terms of their split out of court. But every person who realizes that a relationship must end should take the earliest opportunity to assess their options by consulting with an experienced divorce lawyer. By framing a legal strategy early, a client can be best prepared to achieve a strong negotiating position — or fight for a proper outcome in court if need be.

When Children Are Involved, Their Best Interests Must Be Considered

One strong indicator of the everyday nature of the Woods divorce is the disclosure in divorce documents that they both provided a certificate of completion of a four-hour Parent Education and Family Stabilization class approved by the Florida Department of Children and Families. As they are the parents of two children, proof of these courses was a mandatory step in the court’s final approval of the divorce.

But many other factors go into the child custody portion of a divorce. Divorcing spouses who will share custody must hammer out the details of a parenting plan. Such plans should do more than meet the court’s approval — they should take into account as many eventualities as possible, and build in flexibility where possible and desirable. Before any parenting plan is finalized, the mother and father need to address a host of issues, from sports to birthdays to specific holidays and summer vacations.

Where major disputes over custody issues arise, including allegations of a parent’s fitness, steady advice and determined advocacy from a family law attorney can play a powerful role.

Dividing Accumulated Wealth and Property

The Woods divorce features many of the factors that must be considered in complex asset division, as well as issues common to couples who may only have a modest marital estate. Division of the fruits of a high-profile career, particularly one like Tiger’s that predated the marriage to a large extent, requires exacting review, strong negotiating skills and investigative know-how. To some degree, valuation of certain property and income streams will be speculative, and in some cases important assets may be hidden.

That is one very good reason for couples to consider a prenuptial agreement. A solid prenup puts all of the cards on the table and provides a clear resolution in the event of a future separation. In the case of the Woods divorce, reports suggest that he exceeded its terms to facilitate the process.

But Tiger and Elin also faced basic decisions such as who would get the family home and how much child support he would be required to pay. Such fundamental provisions are vital to the future interests of spouses in all divorces.

Securing the Advice of Experienced Counsel

All aspects of divorce can lead to unexpected complexities and entrenched disputes. From decisions about ongoing support for a spouse who has long supported another’s professional ambitions to concerns of a parent who must move out of state to find work and needs to petition for modification of an existing order, Florida law provides solutions.

By enlisting the representation of a divorce lawyer before change erupts into conflict, family law clients can not only understand the full range of legal options — they can have the perspective to make wise choices for themselves and their children.

Article provided by Jennifer R. Kuczler, Attorney at Law

Changing Perceptions of the Role of Full-Time Dads

September 16, 2010 Business, Featured News, Finance No Comments
Stay At Home Dad

Stay At Home Dad - When the phrase "primary caretaker" arises, few people equate that with a father

The 21st century has seen advances in technology, science, medicine and more. One thing that traditionally hasn’t changed, however, is the perception of the father’s role in a child’s life. Ask most people what a dad does, they may mention things like playing catch, being the family breadwinner, tackling household maintenance projects or mowing the lawn. When the phrase “primary caretaker” arises, few people equate that with a father.

As the Bob Dylan song goes, though, “the times, they are a-changin’.” Fathers all around the country are choosing to raise their children while their wife or partner works outside the home. In fact, the percentage of dads becoming full-time caregivers is growing at nearly twice the rate of single mothers, and now around two million dads provide all or almost all of the day-to-day care for their children.

Part of the movement toward fathers taking a more active role in child-rearing has been motivated by the economy. With a global recession now stretching into its third year, and with men being laid off (or otherwise losing jobs) at about four times the rate of women, many families have no choice but to send their children to so-called “daddy daycare” to conserve funds. Oftentimes when men are acclimated to their new role as a full-time dad, they choose not to return to the work force.

Although some fathers have the stay-at-home decision essentially made for them by outside factors (like the economy), others are choosing to become more involved in their children’s lives to enjoy a closer and more fruitful relationship. As the possibility that a dad will stay home to be a full-time parent becomes more likely, stereotypes are slowly being forgotten. The stigma once attached to having a father be the primary caregiver is, thankfully, changing — more dads are playing the multi-faceted role usually reserved for moms. Dads are now also seen as the parents, cheerleaders, taxi drivers, supervisors, diaper-changers, house cleaners and dog walkers.

If you are a father, you need to realize how important your presence is to your child. Dads play an integral role in the development of a child’s self-esteem, physicality, creativity and general happiness. A father’s positive influence can follow the child outside of the home as well. For example, in the event of a divorce or timesharing dispute, family court judges are much more likely now than before to grant the majority of timesharing rights to a father who has a well-established, high-quality relationship with his child.

Article provided by Curtis R. Cowan PA

Reports of Divorce Rate Increase: Acceptance of a New Economic Reality?

September 4, 2010 Finance No Comments
divorce during recession

Recent reports of an uptick in divorce rates suggest accommodation to new economic realities

Rates of divorce have declined in the last few years, and many family law practitioners have attributed the reduction in dissolutions to the economic challenges posed by the Great Recession. Even if a couple believes that a marriage will no longer work, they may accept the fact that maintaining two households in a time of economic uncertainty has not been a risk worth taking. Diminished real estate equity and uncertainty about jobs opportunities have left some spouses resigned to postponing legal solutions until they feel more secure.

But recent reports suggest that divorce rates are increasing, and some commentators speculate that the reason is that Americans have become accustomed to the new economic reality. Marlene Eskind Moses, president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), told the Minneapolis Star Tribune in August that her organization’s membership is seeing an increase in divorce clients. “With the recession, there was initial shock that paralyzed people. They were frozen, not wanting to make any more significant changes in their lives. They weren’t any happier than before, but too afraid to do anything about it. Now people are stabilizing, acclimating themselves to the new economic realities, and saying, ‘Things may not change soon, but at least I can have a happy life on an emotional level.’”

Steady Advice From Advocates Who Understand Matrimonial and Financial Issues

In the current economic climate, people who are considering divorce need to pursue knowledge about their legal options as well as their financial interests. Estranged couples who have felt trapped by a mortgage that exceeds the market value of their home should take a hard look at loan modification programs to see if one spouse may be able to remain in the family home. For others, a full range of debt relief options may provide solutions, including bankruptcy and consolidation. An attorney with experience in all of these areas can explain strategies to attain an independent future that recently seemed foreclosed.

Article provided by David G. Volman, Attorney at Law, L.L.C.

Sports & Recreation

SportsMetriX System Linked to NCAA Tournament Upsets

6 Nov 2010

NCAA Basketball Tournament

The unprecedented number of upsets in last season’s NCAA tournament was no coincidence. SportsMetriX software was the one common link that helped Butler, Northern Iowa, Murray State, Baylor, and Cornell for preparing pregame reports for their opponents. Sienna and Montana …

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30 Oct 2010

Ryan Dant

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World-Class Snowboarding for the First Time in China

15 Oct 2010

Snowboarder-Shaun-White

The 2010/2011 snowboard season is starting with a big bang: The legendary snowboard contest Air & Style is coming to Beijing, People’s Republic of China, with the 6-star Swatch TTR World Snowboard Tour event “Oakley and Shaun White present Air …

Entertainment

Peter Gabriel, Sheryl Crow, Jimmy Cliff, and Jack Dorsey, Co-Founder of Twitter, Support Human Rights Organization Using Video to Expose Human Rights Abuses

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Nissan Whistleblower After being Jailed a 3rd Time Starts Stand-Up Comedy

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Sharyn Bovat

Sharyn Bovat, the middle Tennessee relocation consultant assigned to manage the move of Nissan board member Carlos Tavares was arrested and taken to jail on July 7th, 2010 by the Franklin police in Williamson County (case # gsc-3714); the details …

Health

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Smoking

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Terminal at 4-years-old, Triumphant at 22, Ryan Dant to Watch His Hero Nolan Ryan and His Beloved Rangers Take on Giants in Game 3

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Body World

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Featured News

Does Travel + TSA = Traveling Trauma?

22 Nov 2010

Airport Security Body Scan

Immediately prior to one of the heaviest travel days of the year, there are a multitude of people crying ‘Foul’ on the increased Travel Security Administration security (TSA) measures.  The overall response has said the ‘enhanced pat-downs’ simply go too …

GM’s IPO is hot, and China’s Automaker, SAIC, wants a piece of the action

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GM Headquarter

SAIC Motor Corp, China’s largest automaker, is a joint-venture partner with General Motors in China. The Chinese company wants a 1% stake in GM share and is willing to pay between $500 Million to $ 1 Billion for the GM’s …

Consumers Don’t Feel Their Financial Interests Are Being Well Protected and Are Dissatisfied With Many Areas in Financial Services

11 Nov 2010

Financial freedom

A new survey on regulatory reform by TNS, the world’s leading custom research firm, finds that only 46% of American consumers feel  their financial interests are being appropriately protected by laws and regulations.  For consumers who are over-indebted this is …

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Business

GM’s IPO is hot, and China’s Automaker, SAIC, wants a piece of the action

12 Nov 2010

GM Headquarter

SAIC Motor Corp, China’s largest automaker, is a joint-venture partner with General Motors in China. The Chinese company wants a 1% stake in GM share and is willing to pay between $500 Million to $ 1 Billion for the GM’s …

Based on 16 Million Barcode Scans by Smartphone Users, ShopSavvy Reveals the Hottest Gifts for the 2010 Holiday Season

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shopsavvy

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Nissan Whistleblower After being Jailed a 3rd Time Starts Stand-Up Comedy

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Sharyn Bovat, the middle Tennessee relocation consultant assigned to manage the move of Nissan board member Carlos Tavares was arrested and taken to jail on July 7th, 2010 by the Franklin police in Williamson County (case # gsc-3714); the details …

Finance

Consumers Don’t Feel Their Financial Interests Are Being Well Protected and Are Dissatisfied With Many Areas in Financial Services

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Financial freedom

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Technology

Peter Gabriel, Sheryl Crow, Jimmy Cliff, and Jack Dorsey, Co-Founder of Twitter, Support Human Rights Organization Using Video to Expose Human Rights Abuses

11 Nov 2010

Human Rights Abuse

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Based on 16 Million Barcode Scans by Smartphone Users, ShopSavvy Reveals the Hottest Gifts for the 2010 Holiday Season

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shopsavvy

In the first 10 days of the holiday shopping season, ShopSavvy users performed 16 million product scans with ShopSavvy’s built-in barcode reader, with nearly a third of the smartphone app’s 6.5 million users scanning at …

Creative Channel Services’ Study Suggests Set-Top Box Is Preferred Upgrade Solution

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Travel

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Airport Security Body Scan

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YAKIMA-car-rack

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OZARK MOUNTAIN CHRISTMAS

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