How Homeowners Can Avoid Mistakes During Bankruptcy

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Homeowners must do their very best to avoid making mistakes during Bankruptcy Proceedings.

The federal bankruptcy laws promise a fresh financial start for the honest but unfortunate debtor. Bankruptcy balances the interests of the debtor to obtain a fresh start and the interests of the creditor to see that the debtor pays back whatever he or she can afford. But all too often, a debtor makes mistakes in bankruptcy, seriously compromising his or her case before it’s even filed.

In order to help homeowners avoid those unnecessary complications, we’ve prepared this list of the 7 biggest mistakes in bankruptcy:

1. Paying an Insider Creditor

The bankruptcy laws attempt to ensure that all creditors receive fair treatment during the bankruptcy process. One concern is that the debtor will pay loans to family or friends before filing bankruptcy, and therefore deprive other creditors from receiving payment.

Family, friends, business partners, and other creditors who have close relationships with the debtor are called “insider creditors,” and transfers to insider creditors can be avoided by the bankruptcy trustee if the transfer occurred within one year before the bankruptcy filing.

For instance, if you gave your mother $1,000 from your income tax refund as payment for a debt, and then filed bankruptcy two months later, the bankruptcy trustee can sue your mother to recover the $1,000. To make matters worse, often the debtor could have protected the cash money during the bankruptcy and paid the debt without difficulty after the case was filed.

2. Incurring Debt After Deciding to File

Some people decide to charge up credit cards or take payday loans just before filing bankruptcy. If you have decided to file bankruptcy, do not incur additional debt. Taking loans with no intention to repay the creditor could be fraud, which is a crime.

3. Transferring Property Before Bankruptcy

Anytime an individual transfers property for less than full value shortly before a bankruptcy filing, the transfer seems “suspicious.” The bankruptcy trustee scrutinizes all property transfers before bankruptcy, and if a property transfer was not a fair and honest exchange, the trustee may avoid the transfer and get the property back.

One common bankruptcy mistake is transferring property to a friend or family member in an effort to hide it from the bankruptcy court. This is a very bad mistake that can result in: (1) losing the property anyway; (2) denial of your bankruptcy discharge; and/or (3) criminal prosecution for bankruptcy fraud.

If you need to sell or transfer property before your bankruptcy, contact an experienced Bankruptcy Attorney and discuss your options!

4. Paying Off Loans Before Bankruptcy

If you pay off a loan shortly before filing for bankruptcy, the bankruptcy trustee will be very interested in that payment. If you paid a large sum of money to one creditor just before filing, the trustee may ask the creditor to return the money.

Also, paying off an unsecured debt that is otherwise dis-chargeable (like a credit card or payday loan) is like throwing your money away. You need that money to help rebuild your finances after your case is completed.

And even paying off a secured debt can cause you problems. Bankruptcy exemptions commonly apply only up to a certain amount of equity. Your equity in some property is the difference between the fair market value of the property minus any secured loans.

When you pay off a secured loan, you increase your equity in the property. If that causes your equity to exceed the exemption limit, the bankruptcy trustee may ask you for the property or the cash difference between the equity and the exemption amount.

Bottom line: don’t pay off loans before bankruptcy!

5. Cashing out Retirement

Most retirement funds are fully protected from creditors and the bankruptcy trustee. That means if you file bankruptcy, you keep your retirement money. Congress wants you to have money for your retirement.

Unfortunately, some people are unaware of these broad protections and cash out their retirement savings out of fear that it will be taken during the bankruptcy. Along with the obvious problems associated with losing your future retirement money, cashing out retirement funds is also a huge mistake because:

Your attorney may no longer be able to protect available retirement money converted into cash; and
If you used your retirement funds to pay off an unsecured loan, the bankruptcy trustee may be able to undo those payments. Money paid to creditors before bankruptcy does not improve your financial situation or help you recover from bankruptcy.
In short, always discuss cashing out 401(k) or IRA retirement funds with your attorney prior to your filing bankruptcy.

6. Failing to Plan for Bankruptcy

The federal bankruptcy process is full of traps for the unwary—or the hasty. Most of these problem areas can be avoided with careful planning and a thorough pre-bankruptcy investigation.

When a client needs to file a bankruptcy quickly, the attorney relies heavily on the client to provide complete and accurate financial information. In some cases the client is not able to obtain those important records. To compound the issue, sometimes financial transactions are forgotten or overlooked.

Mistakes like these in hastily-filed bankruptcy cases can lead to big problems. For instance, a debtor who rushes into bankruptcy may forget an employment bonus that was paid or that is owed or underestimate an income tax refund. Under-reporting income can disqualify the debtor from receiving a discharge at the conclusion of his or her case, undermining the entire point of bankruptcy.

Many bankruptcy mistakes can be avoided by consulting a bankruptcy attorney early. Preparing a bankruptcy petition does not take long, but your attorney needs time to analyze your case, review your financial documents, and ask the right questions to avoid problems with your case.

7. Being Dishonest

This is the worst mistake of all because the bankruptcy laws do not protect a dishonest debtor. Failure to truthfully list all of your assets, debts, income and expenses is grounds for dismissal of your case, or you may have to answer allegations of bankruptcy fraud (a federal crime).

The Best Way to Avoid Mistakes in Bankruptcy

If you are experiencing financial difficulty and are considering bankruptcy, discuss your case with an experienced bankruptcy attorney.

If you are a homeowner already in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy and needs to proceed with Adversary Proceeding to challenge the validity of Security Interest or Lien on your home, Our Adversary Proceeding package may be just what you need.

When Homeowner’s good faith attempts to amicably work with the Bank in order to resolve the issue fails;

Home owners should wake up TODAY! before it’s too late by mustering enough courage for “Pro Se” Litigation (Self Representation – Do it Yourself) against the Lender – for Mortgage Fraud and other State and Federal law violations using foreclosure defense package found at https://fightforeclosure.net/foreclosure-defense-package/ “Pro Se” litigation will allow Homeowners to preserved their home equity, saves Attorneys fees by doing it “Pro Se” and pursuing a litigation for Mortgage Fraud, Unjust Enrichment, Quiet Title and Slander of Title; among other causes of action. This option allow the homeowner to stay in their home for 3-5 years for FREE without making a red cent in mortgage payment, until the “Pretender Lender” loses a fortune in litigation costs to high priced Attorneys which will force the “Pretender Lender” to early settlement in order to modify the loan; reducing principal and interest in order to arrive at a decent figure of the monthly amount the struggling homeowner could afford to pay.

If you find yourself in an unfortunate situation of losing or about to lose your home to wrongful fraudulent foreclosure, and need a complete package that will show you step-by-step litigation solutions helping you challenge these fraudsters and ultimately saving your home from foreclosure either through loan modification or “Pro Se” litigation visit: https://fightforeclosure.net/foreclosure-defense-package/

If you have received a Notice of Default “NOD”, take a deep breath, as this the time to start the FIGHT! and Protect your EQUITY!

If you do Nothing, you will see the WRONG parties WITHOUT standing STEAL your home right under your nose, and by the time you realize it, it might be too late! If your property has been foreclosed, use the available options on our package to reverse already foreclosed home and reclaim your most prized possession! You can do it by yourself! START Today — STOP Foreclosure Tomorrow!

What Homeowners Must Know About Deficiency Judgment After Foreclosure

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A common misconception among consumers is that after foreclosure they will not owe their mortgage lender. Many homeowners who go through foreclosure are surprised to learn that they still owe money on their house, even though they no longer own it!

Most mortgage lenders require borrowers to personally guarantee the amount of the note, leaving the lender with two avenues of in the foreclosure scenario. Lenders can take back the real estate, and in many vases, sue the borrower personally if the house doesn’t sell for the full value of the money that was lent.

What is a ?

When a borrower loses their home to foreclosure and still owes their lender money after the sale, the remaining debt is usually referred to as a deficiency. Lenders can sue to recover this amount.

For example, if you owe $500,000 on your mortgage and can no longer afford to make payments on the note, your lender will institute foreclosure proceedings against you and will eventually sell your home at a public sale. If the home sells for $400,000 and your state allows lenders to collect deficiency judgments, you will owe your lender $100,000 once they obtain a judgment for the deficiency.

In many cases, this deficiency judgment is a tough pill to swallow for the borrower who just lost their home and yet still owes their lender after foreclosure.

Homeowners’ responsibility after foreclosure

Borrowers who are left facing a large deficiency judgment after foreclosure often turn to bankruptcy in order to protect their assets. In order to determine whether you will owe money to your lender after a foreclosure sale of your home, it is important to get a handle on two important items of information:

1. How much is your home worth?

Regardless of your state’s deficiency laws, if your home will sell at a foreclosure sale for more than what you owe, you will not be obligated to pay anything to your lender after foreclosure. Your lender is obligated to apply the sale price of your home to the  mortgage debt. Only when a home is “underwater” — meaning the borrower owes more on the mortgage than the home is worth — will he or she potentially face a deficiency judgment after a foreclosure.

2. Does your state have an Anti-Deficiency Statute?

Not all states allow lenders to collect on the note after a home has been foreclosed on. These states are referred to as “non-recourse” states because they only allow the lender to take back the collateral for the loan (your home). They do not allow the lender the additional remedy of going after the borrower’s personal assets if the sale of the home does not satisfy the mortgage.

Non-recourse mortgage states

In a non-recourse mortgage state, borrowers are not held personally liable for their mortgage. If the foreclosure sale does not generate enough money to satisfy the loan, the lender must accept the loss.

Some states that have anti-deficiency legislation qualify it by only making it applicable to seller-financed or “purchase-money” mortgages. North Carolina is a good example. North Carolina’s anti-deficiency statute applies when the seller of real estate provides the financing for the purchase. In such a situation, the legislature has prohibited the seller/lender from seeking a deficiency judgment after foreclosure. The purchase-money lender has recourse only against the collateral for the loan and not against the purchaser/borrower in her individual capacity. Banks who have made mortgages in North Carolina are allowed to seek deficiency judgments against borrowers.

The lesson to be learned is that if you owe more on your mortgage than your house is worth and the property is in a state that allows lenders to seek deficiency judgments, you may still owe money even after foreclosure.

Judicial and non-judicial foreclosures

A lender that wants to foreclose on your home has two foreclosure options: judicial and non-judicial. A judicial foreclosure is processed through the courts; some states require lenders to use this process. A non-judicial foreclosure is handled outside the court system.

It is advisable to consult with an experienced bankruptcy attorney to discuss how your state’s laws will affect you. Below is a list of states that have some form of anti-deficiency statute:

Alaska

You are not liable for the deficiency in a non-judicial foreclosure, but you may be liable for the deficiency in a judicial foreclosure.

Arizona

You are not liable for the deficiency if the home is a single one-family or single two-family home on a plot of less than 2 ½ acres. You must have lived in the home for at least 6 months.

California

You are not liable for the deficiency for purchase-money loans in non-judicial foreclosure. You are not liable for the deficiency in judicial foreclosure for property with four units or less, seller-financed loans, or refinances of purchase-money mortgages executed after January 1, 2013.

Connecticut

Under a “strict foreclosure,” you may be sued separately for the deficiency. If your home is sold under a “decree of sale,” you will liable for only half of the deficiency.

Florida

The lender must sue you for the deficiency, and whether you are liable is left to the discretion of the court. You will be given credit for the greater of the foreclosure price or the fair-market value of the home.

Hawaii

You are not liable for the deficiency in a non-judicial foreclosure if the property is residential and you live in it. You are liable for the deficiency in a judicial foreclosure.

Idaho

Your deficiency is limited to the difference between the fair-market value of your home and the foreclosure price.

Minnesota

For a non-judicial foreclosure, you are not liable for the deficiency. In a judicial foreclosure, you are liable but the jury will determine the fair-market value of your home and you will have to pay the difference between that and the foreclosure price.

Montana

You are not liable for the deficiency in a non-judicial foreclosure.

Nevada

You are not liable for the deficiency if your lender is a financial institution, the loan originated after October 1, 2009, the property is a single-family owner-occupied home, the mortgage debt was used to purchase the property, and you haven’t refinanced the mortgage.

New Mexico

You are not liable for the deficiency in a non-judicial foreclosure on the primary residence of a low-income household.

North Carolina

If the seller is finances your mortgage, you are not liable for the deficiency.

North Dakota

You are not liable for the deficiency if the property has less than four units and is on a plot of less than 40 acres.

Oklahoma

You are not liable for the deficiency if you notify the lender in writing at least 10 days before the foreclosure sale that you live in the home and opt out of deficiency judgment.

Oregon

You are not liable for the deficiency in non-judicial foreclosure or in judicial foreclosure on property with four or less units as long as you or a direct family member lives in one of the units.

Texas

You will receive credit for the fair-market value of the home. You are liable for the difference between your mortgage loan amount and the fair-market value.

Washington

You are not liable for the deficiency in a non-judicial foreclosure. You are liable for the deficiency for a judicial foreclosure.

When Homeowner’s good faith attempts to amicably work with the Bank in order to resolve the issue fails;

Home owners should wake up TODAY! before it’s too late by mustering enough courage for “Pro Se” Litigation (Self Representation – Do it Yourself) against the Lender – for Mortgage Fraud and other State and Federal law violations using foreclosure defense package found at https://fightforeclosure.net/foreclosure-defense-package/ “Pro Se” litigation will allow Homeowners to preserved their home equity, saves Attorneys fees by doing it “Pro Se” and pursuing a litigation for Mortgage Fraud, Unjust Enrichment, Quiet Title and Slander of Title; among other causes of action. This option allow the homeowner to stay in their home for 3-5 years for FREE without making a red cent in mortgage payment, until the “Pretender Lender” loses a fortune in litigation costs to high priced Attorneys which will force the “Pretender Lender” to early settlement in order to modify the loan; reducing principal and interest in order to arrive at a decent figure of the monthly amount the struggling homeowner could afford to pay.

If you find yourself in an unfortunate situation of losing or about to lose your home to wrongful fraudulent foreclosure, and need a complete package that will show you step-by-step litigation solutions helping you challenge these fraudsters and ultimately saving your home from foreclosure either through loan modification or “Pro Se” litigation visit: https://fightforeclosure.net/foreclosure-defense-package/

If you have received a Notice of Default “NOD”, take a deep breath, as this the time to start the FIGHT! and Protect your EQUITY!

If you do Nothing, you will see the WRONG parties WITHOUT standing STEAL your home right under your nose, and by the time you realize it, it might be too late! If your property has been foreclosed, use the available options on our package to reverse already foreclosed home and reclaim your most prized possession! You can do it by yourself! START Today — STOP Foreclosure Tomorrow!

What Homeowners Must Know About Foreclosure

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Facing a foreclosure can be daunting prospect for people in trouble with their mortgages, especially when they are unsure of what to do. Across the country, six out of 10 homeowners questioned said they wished they understood their mortgage and its terms better.

When the economy collapsed in 2008, foreclosure became a fact of life for millions of Americans.  About 250,000 new families enter into foreclosure every three months, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

The same percentage of homeowners also said they were unaware of what mortgage lenders can do to help them through their financial situation.

The first step to working through a possible foreclosure is to understand what a foreclosure means. When someone buys a property, they typically do not have enough money to pay for the purchase outright. So they take out a mortgage loan, which is a contract for purchase money that will be paid back over time.

A foreclosure consists of a lender trying to reclaim the title of a property that had been sold to someone using a loan. The borrower, usually the homeowner living in the house, is unable or unwilling to continue making mortgage payments. When this happens, the lender that provided the loan to the borrower will move to take back the property.

How do Foreclosures Work?

People enter into foreclosure for various reasons, but it typically follows a major change in their financial circumstances. A foreclosure can be the result of losing a job, medical problems that keep you from working, too many debts or a divorce.

Foreclosures often begin when the borrower stops making payments. When this happens, the loan becomes delinquent and the homeowner goes into default. The default status continues for about 90 days. During this time, the lender will get in touch with the borrower to see whether they will be able to pay the balance of the loan.

At this point, if the borrower cannot pay, the lender may file a Notice of Foreclosure, which begins the process. The lender will file foreclosure documents in a local court. This part of the process usually takes 120 days to nine months to complete. If borrowers need extra time, they can challenge the process in court, and that’s where our Foreclosure Defense Package comes in.

How do Foreclosures Relate to Debt?

Some people facing foreclosure find themselves in this position because of mounting debt that made it harder to make their mortgage payments.

A foreclosure can add to your financial problems if your state allows a deficiency judgment, which means the borrower owes the difference between what is owed on the foreclosed property and the amount it eventually sells for at an auction.

Thirty-eight states allow financial institutions to pursue borrowers for this money.

In cases when a lender does not use a deficiency judgment, a foreclosure can relieve some of your financial burden. Although it is a loss when a lender takes the home you partially paid for, it can be a start to rebuild your finances.

It is a good idea to work with a financial adviser or a debt counselor to understand what kind of debt you may incur during a foreclosure.

What Else Should I Know?

If you are thinking about going into foreclosure, there are a number of things to consider:

  • A foreclosure dramatically affects your credit score. Fair Isaac, the company that created FICO (credit) scores, drops credit scores from 85 points to 160 points after a foreclosure or short sale. The amount of the drop depends on other factors, such as previous credit score.
  •  Get in touch with your lender as soon as you are aware that you are having difficulty making payments. You may be able to avoid foreclosure by negotiating a new repayment plan or refinancing that works better for you.
  •  States have different rules on how foreclosures work. Understand your rights and get a sense of how long you can stay in your home once foreclosure proceedings begin.

When Homeowner’s good faith attempts to amicably work with the Bank in order to resolve the issue fails;

Home owners should wake up TODAY! before it’s too late by mustering enough courage for “Pro Se” Litigation (Self Representation – Do it Yourself) against the Lender – for Mortgage Fraud and other State and Federal law violations using foreclosure defense package found at https://fightforeclosure.net/foreclosure-defense-package/ “Pro Se” litigation will allow Homeowners to preserved their home equity, saves Attorneys fees by doing it “Pro Se” and pursuing a litigation for Mortgage Fraud, Unjust Enrichment, Quiet Title and Slander of Title; among other causes of action. This option allow the homeowner to stay in their home for 3-5 years for FREE without making a red cent in mortgage payment, until the “Pretender Lender” loses a fortune in litigation costs to high priced Attorneys which will force the “Pretender Lender” to early settlement in order to modify the loan; reducing principal and interest in order to arrive at a decent figure of the monthly amount the struggling homeowner could afford to pay.

If you find yourself in an unfortunate situation of losing or about to lose your home to wrongful fraudulent foreclosure, and need a complete package that will show you step-by-step litigation solutions helping you challenge these fraudsters and ultimately saving your home from foreclosure either through loan modification or “Pro Se” litigation visit: https://fightforeclosure.net/foreclosure-defense-package/loan

If you have received a Notice of Default “NOD”, take a deep breath, as this the time to start the FIGHT! and Protect your EQUITY!

If you do Nothing, you will see the WRONG parties WITHOUT standing STEAL your home right under your nose, and by the time you realize it, it might be too late! If your property has been foreclosed, use the available options on our package to reverse already foreclosed home and reclaim your most prized possession! You can do it by yourself! START Today — STOP Foreclosure Tomorrow!

What Homeowners Should Know About the National Mortgage Settlement for Borrowers in Bankruptcy and Case Trustees

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The National Mortgage Settlement (the “Settlement”) is an agreement among the federal government, 49 states, and the five largest mortgage servicers and their affiliates (the “Banks”).

The Banks are:
Ally Financial, Inc. (formerly GMAC)
Bank of America Corporation
Citigroup, Inc.
J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.
Wells Fargo & Company

The Settlement provides benefits to borrowers, including borrowers in bankruptcy, whose residential mortgage loans are serviced by the Banks.

Information concerning the Settlement and its impact on borrowers in bankruptcy can be found at a dedicated page on the United States Trustee Program’s website at http://www.justice.gov/ust/eo/public_affairs/consumer_info/nms

In addition, the website http://www.nationalmortgagesettlement.com provides resources about the Settlement, including a copy of the Settlement, an executive summary of the Settlement, a fact sheet, and FAQs. The FAQs on that website discuss general issues, including:

• What Bank conduct is covered by the Settlement?

• What loans are covered by the Settlement?

• What are the financial provisions of the Settlement?

• How will the Settlement be enforced?

Finally, the Settlement requires the appointment of an independent monitor to oversee the Banks’ compliance with the Settlement. The website for the monitor is: www.mortgageoversight.com

Question 1: What do these FAQs cover?

The United States Trustee Program, the component of the Department of Justice responsible for overseeing the administration of bankruptcy cases and private trustees, has prepared these FAQs primarily for borrowers in bankruptcy or borrowers who are considering filing bankruptcy, including those who have lost their homes in foreclosure. These FAQs also address questions that trustees who administer bankruptcy cases may have.

These FAQs are provided as a basic resource and should not be considered legal advice. The United States Trustee Program is prohibited from providing legal advice. If you have any questions, you should consult an attorney.

Question 2: What bankruptcy issues did the Settlement address?

The Settlement addresses misconduct by the Banks in bankruptcy cases, including:

Inflated or inaccurate claims.

Some of the Banks filed inflated or inaccurate documents in bankruptcy courts. When a borrower files for bankruptcy relief, the Bank may file a proof of claim or motion for relief from the automatic stay. These documents tell a bankruptcy court how much the Bank claims the borrower owes the Bank. The proof of claim also governs what a borrower in bankruptcy must pay through a chapter 13 repayment plan, and the motion for relief can determine whether the Bank may seek to commence to foreclose upon a home even if the borrower is in bankruptcy.

The accuracy of these documents is crucial. A number of parties, including the borrower in bankruptcy, the bankruptcy court, the trustee administering the case, the United States Trustee, and other creditors, rely on these documents.

When a Bank inflates or misstates what a borrower in bankruptcy owes in these documents, the consequences can be severe. For example, the Bank may be paid too much and other creditors may not receive amounts they are owed. At worst, the borrower in bankruptcy is unable to propose a repayment plan that can be approved and the bankruptcy case is dismissed, or the Bank improperly obtains relief from the automatic stay and is permitted to foreclose on the borrower’s home. As a result, the borrower in bankruptcy loses the ability to keep the home and obtain a fresh start in bankruptcy.

• Improper accounting of mortgage payments made by borrowers in bankruptcy.

Some of the Banks misapplied payments made by borrowers in bankruptcy. When a Bank does this, it appears on the Bank’s books as if the borrower has failed to make regular monthly payments and the Bank can file a motion seeking relief from the automatic stay to foreclose upon the borrower’s home. This misapplication of payments also results in the Bank improperly asserting that the borrower is behind on mortgage payments and can lead to the Bank imposing loan default fees and other charges.

• Adding improper fees and charges to the mortgage accounts of borrowers in bankruptcy.

Some of the Banks charged borrowers in bankruptcy for services not warranted, or in amounts not allowed. For example, some of the Banks sought to recover escrow payments twice, and conducted unnecessary or excessive property inspections and appraisals.

• Charging “hidden fees” to the mortgage accounts of borrowers in bankruptcy.

Some of the Banks also imposed “hidden fees” – fees that are assessed during the bankruptcy case but are not disclosed until after a borrower in bankruptcy receives a discharge. This can result in borrowers believing they are current on their mortgages, only to have a Bank claim the borrowers owe additional amounts. This deprives borrowers in bankruptcy of the “fresh start” promised by the bankruptcy discharge. These hidden fees also often violate bankruptcy court orders finding that borrowers are current on their mortgages.

• Seeking relief from stay to foreclose while borrowers in bankruptcy have pending applications for loan modifications.

Some of the Banks separated their bankruptcy operations from other aspects of their mortgage servicing business, so they did not have a clear picture of the status of a borrower in bankruptcy’s mortgage.

For example, the Banks sometimes provided borrowers in bankruptcy the opportunity to modify the terms of their home loans. Modification has benefits for both the Bank, which continues to receive payments, and the borrower, who receives a more manageable monthly payment.

However, while applications for loan modifications were being processed by one group of the Bank, its bankruptcy operations might move forward with requests for relief from the automatic stay so the Bank could commence foreclosure.

Question 3: Will the Settlement impact borrowers in bankruptcy?

Yes. The Settlement requires the Banks to collectively dedicate approximately $20 billion toward various forms of financial relief for borrowers including principal reduction, forbearance of principal for unemployed borrowers, short sales and transitional assistance, and specific benefits for service members.

The Banks must also make payments to state and federal authorities exceeding $5 billion. Of this amount, $1.5 billion has been set aside to establish a “Borrower Payment Fund” administered by Rust Consulting LLC (the “Settlement Administrator”).

Much of this relief is available to borrowers in bankruptcy. A borrower should contact the appropriate Bank (see question 4) to determine eligibility for relief. A borrower should contact the Settlement Administrator regarding the Borrower Payment Fund (see question 5).

Additionally, the Banks must implement extensive new mortgage servicing standards, including provisions specific to borrowers in bankruptcy. These standards address what occurs when borrowers fall behind on their mortgage payments, including when borrowers file for bankruptcy relief. As explained in these FAQs (see questions 7 through 11), the servicing standards require, among other things:

• A single point of contact at each Bank for borrowers in bankruptcy, who want information or assistance when they fall behind on their mortgage payments;

• New processes to ensure that the Banks provide accurate information about the amount that borrowers in bankruptcy owe on their mortgages;

• Better dispute resolution processes;

• Clear itemization of the principal, interest, fees, expenses and other charges incurred prior to bankruptcy that the Banks claim in bankruptcy cases;

• Prompt posting of payments and proper designation of pre-and post- petition payments and charges;

• Timely disclosure of fees, expenses, and charges incurred after a ` borrower files for chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Question 4: How will borrowers in bankruptcy know if they are eligible for financial assistance under the Settlement?

The Banks may directly contact borrowers, including borrowers in bankruptcy. However, borrowers should not wait to be contacted. To determine eligibility, a borrower or their attorney should contact the appropriate Bank:

Ally/GMAC: 800-766-4622

Bank of America: 877-488-7814

(Available Monday – Friday, 7:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. (CT),
and Saturdays, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. CT))

Citi: 866-272-4749

J.P. Morgan Chase: 866-372-6901

Wells Fargo: 800-288-3212
(Available Monday – Friday, 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. (CT))

A borrower should not use these phone numbers for questions concerning payments from the Borrower Payment Fund. See question 5 for information concerning these payments.

Question 5: Who can a borrower contact for information concerning payments from the Borrower Payment Fund?

The Settlement required the Banks to pay $1.5 billion to a “Borrower Payment Fund” that will be used to make payments to borrowers who lost their homes through foreclosure between and including January 1, 2008 and December 31, 2011. The Settlement Administrator has mailed Notice Letters and Claim Forms to eligible borrowers.

If you believe that you are eligible for relief and have not received a Notice Letter or Claim Form or have other questions concerning the Borrower Payment Fund, please contact the Settlement Administrator at 866-430-8358, Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. (CT).

Question 6: What if a borrower in bankruptcy already has a claim against a Bank?

The Settlement includes a release of liability by the federal government and the participating states for certain conduct by the Banks that occurred prior to the Settlement. The Settlement does not release claims a borrower, including a borrower in bankruptcy, may have under state or federal law, and a borrower does not need to choose between accepting relief under the Settlement and pursuing those claims.

Question 7: Can borrowers in bankruptcy participate in the Settlement and receive financial assistance from other sources?

Yes. Borrowers, including borrowers in bankruptcy, may participate in the programs offered under the Settlement and other programs. For example, borrowers may be eligible for a separate restitution process administered by the federal banking regulators, including the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (the “OCC”). For more information about the federal banking regulator claims process, please visit www.independentforeclosurereview.com or call 1-888-952-9105.

Question 8: Is there someone at the Banks whom borrowers in bankruptcy can contact with questions concerning their mortgage?

Yes. Each Bank has a single point of contact for borrowers (a “SPOC”), including borrowers in bankruptcy, who want information or assistance when they fall behind on their mortgage payments. The SPOCs for borrowers in bankruptcy must be knowledgeable about bankruptcy issues. Also, the Banks must have adequate staff to handle the calls.

Question 9: Do the Banks have special contacts that chapter 13 trustees can utilize to address trustee inquiries?

Yes. The Settlement requires that each Bank establish a toll-free hotline staffed by employees trained in bankruptcy to respond to inquiries from chapter 13 trustees.

Trustees should have received information regarding these hotlines. Any chapter 13 trustee who has not received this information should contact their local United States Trustee office.

Question 10: How does the Settlement address the Banks’ filings in bankruptcy courts going forward?

The Settlement imposes new standards on the Banks to ensure the accuracy of information they provide to bankruptcy courts. These standards are designed to ensure that the Banks provide accurate information about the amount that borrowers in bankruptcy owe on their mortgages.

Moreover, under the new servicing standards, the Banks must implement better dispute resolution processes. If a Bank files inaccurate or misleading documents in a bankruptcy case, a borrower can use these new procedures and make a complaint with the Bank.

In addition, with respect to proofs of claim and certain affidavits attached to documents filed in bankruptcy courts, the Banks must correct any significant inaccuracies promptly and also provide notice of the correction to the affected borrower or counsel to the borrower.

Question 11: What kind of information must the Banks provide concerning a mortgage when a borrower files for bankruptcy?

For a borrower in a chapter 13 (repayment) case, if a Bank files a proof of claim, the Bank must include an accurate and clear statement of exactly what the Bank claims the borrower owes. That statement must itemize the principal, interest, fees, expenses, and other charges that the Bank claims is owed as of the filing of the bankruptcy case.

Question 12: How does the Settlement affect how the Banks apply mortgage payments made by borrowers or a trustee in bankruptcy?

The Banks must promptly post payments received from a borrower or trustee while a borrower is in bankruptcy and accurately designate payments between any arrearage owed before the bankruptcy filing and what is owed for regular mortgage payments after the filing. The Banks must also reconcile accounts, including funds held in suspense accounts, at the end of each bankruptcy case and update their records so they are consistent with the account reconciliation.

Question 13: How does the Settlement affect what the Banks charge after a borrower files for bankruptcy?

The Banks must timely disclose fees, expenses, and charges incurred after a borrower files a chapter 13 bankruptcy case. A Bank waives fees, expenses, and charges of which the Bank has not given timely notice to the Borrower. The Banks must also timely give notice to a borrower of any changes in payments the borrower will have to make due to, for example, interest rate adjustments or changes in the escrow amount.

Question 14: Should a trustee administering the case of a borrower in bankruptcy seek to recover funds received by the borrower under the Settlement?

Eligible borrowers in bankruptcy may receive payments from the Banks as a part of the Settlement. A trustee should consider all relevant circumstances when deciding whether to seek turnover of the payments in a particular case. Factors to consider include:

• The payment amount and any interest of a non-debtor spouse or other person in the payment;

• The cost of recovering and administering the payment, including litigation with a borrower in bankruptcy who may seek a judicial determination regarding whether the funds are subject to administration;

• The extent to which recovering the payment will enable creditors to receive a meaningful distribution; and

• The applicability of state and federal exemptions.

The United States Trustee Program will not seek to compel a trustee to recover payments that the trustee, in the exercise of discretion, decides not to recover.

Question 15: How does the Settlement affect the trustees’ review of the Banks’ proofs of claim?

Generally, the Settlement will not alter a trustee’s review of claims filed by the Banks. If a trustee concludes, based on a review of a Bank’s bankruptcy filings, that a Bank violated the Settlement, the trustee, usually will contact the United States Trustee’s office in the jurisdiction in which the case was filed.

When Homeowner’s good faith attempts to amicably work with the Bank in order to resolve the issue fails;

Home owners should wake up TODAY! before it’s too late by mustering enough courage for “Pro Se” Litigation (Self Representation – Do it Yourself) against the Lender – for Mortgage Fraud and other State and Federal law violations using foreclosure defense package found at https://fightforeclosure.net/foreclosure-defense-package/ “Pro Se” litigation will allow Homeowners to preserved their home equity, saves Attorneys fees by doing it “Pro Se” and pursuing a litigation for Mortgage Fraud, Unjust Enrichment, Quiet Title and Slander of Title; among other causes of action. This option allow the homeowner to stay in their home for 3-5 years for FREE without making a red cent in mortgage payment, until the “Pretender Lender” loses a fortune in litigation costs to high priced Attorneys which will force the “Pretender Lender” to early settlement in order to modify the loan; reducing principal and interest in order to arrive at a decent figure of the monthly amount the struggling homeowner could afford to pay.

If you find yourself in an unfortunate situation of losing or about to lose your home to wrongful fraudulent foreclosure, and need a complete package that will show you step-by-step litigation solutions helping you challenge these fraudsters and ultimately saving your home from foreclosure either through loan modification or “Pro Se” litigation visit: https://fightforeclosure.net/foreclosure-defense-package/

How Homeowners Can Find Who Owns Their Mortgage Loans

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A mortgage loan is typically assigned several times during its term, and may be held by one entity but serviced by another. Different disclosure requirements apply depending upon whether information is sought about the ownership of the mortgage loan or its servicing. Knowing exactly who owns and services the mortgage is a critical first step to negotiating a binding workout or loan modification. The information is needed to send a notice of rescission under the Truth in Lending Act, to identify the proper party to name and serve in a lien avoidance proceeding, and to identify other potential parties in litigation. This information may also provide a defense to foreclosure or stay relief in bankruptcy if these proceedings are not initiated by a proper party. 

1. Send a TILA § 1641(f)(2) Request to the Servicer

The Truth in Lending Act requires the loan servicer to tell the borrower who the actual holder of the mortgage really is.3 Upon written request from the borrower, the servicer must state the name, address, and telephone number of the owner of the obligation or the master servicer of the obligation.

One problem with this provision’s enforcement had been the lack of a clear remedy for the servicer’s non-compliance. However, the Helping Families Save Their HomesAct of 20095 amends TILA to explicitly provide that violations may be remedied byTILA’s private right of action found in § 1640(a), which includes recovery of actualdamages, statutory damages, costs and attorney fees.6 The amendment adds the ownerdisclosure provision found in § 1641(f)(2) to the list of TILA requirements that give rise to a cause of action against the creditor if there is a failure to comply.

See NCLC Foreclosures (2d ed. 2007 and Supp.), § 4.3.4.  

15 U.S.C. § 1641(f)(2). The provision should require disclosure to the borrower’s advocate with a properly signed release form. See NCLC Foreclosures, Appx. A, Form 3, infra.

If the servicer provides information about the master servicer, a follow-up requestshould be made to the master servicer to provide the name, address, and telephone number of the owner of the obligation. Pub. L. No. 111-22, § 404 (May 20, 2009). See 15 U.S.C. § 1640(a).

1640(a) refers to “any creditor who fails to comply,” by specifically adding as an actionable requirement a disclosure provision which Congress knew is directed toservicers and therefore involves compliance by creditors through their servicers,

Congress chose to make creditors liable to borrowers for noncompliance by servicers.The TILA provision does not specify how long the servicer has to respond to the request. Perhaps because no parties were directly liable under § 1640(a) for violations of the disclosure requirement before the 2009 amendment, no case law had developed on what is a reasonable response time. In the future, courts may be guided by recent regulations issued by the Federal Reserve Board requiring servicers to provide payoff statements within a reasonable time after request by the borrower. In most circumstances, a reasonable response time is within five business days of receipt.

Applying this benchmark to § 1641(f)(2) requests would seem appropriate since surely no more time is involved in responding to a request for ownership information than preparing a payoff statement. Alternatively, a 30-day response period should be the outer limit for timeliness since that is the time period Congress used in § 1641(g).

2. Review Transfer of Ownership Notices

The Helping Families Save Their Homes Act of 2009 also added a new provision in TILA which requires that whenever ownership of a mortgage loan securing a consumer’s principal dwelling is transferred, the creditor that is the new owner or assignee must notify the borrower in writing, within 30 days after the loan is sold or assigned, of the following information:

• the new creditor’s identity, address, and telephone number;

• the date of transfer;

• location where the transfer is recorded;

• how the borrower may reach an agent or party with authority to act on

behalf of the new creditor; and

• any other relevant information regarding the new owner.9

The new law applies to any transfers made after the Act’s effective date, which was

May 20, 2009. The Mortgage Electronic Registration System (MERS) recently

announced a program to implement the new law.

Reg Z § 226.36(c)(1(iii); NCLC Truth in Lending, § 9.9.3 (6th ed. 2007 and

2008  Supp.).

Official Staff Commentary § 226.36(c)(1)(iii)-1.

See 15 U.S.C. § 1641(g)(1)(A)–(E).

Under “MERS InvestorID,” notices will be automatically generated whenever a“Transfer of Beneficial Rights” occurs on the MERS system. A sample Transfer Noticeand “Training Bulletin” are available for download at http://www.mersinc.org/news. MERS is taking the position, based on the wording of the statute (which refers to “place where ownership of the debt is recorded”), that it can comply by disclosing only the location where the original security instrument is recorded because the note is not a “recordable Attorneys should request that clients provide copies of any ownership notices they have received based on this new law. Assuming that there has been compliance with the statute, the attorney may be able to piece together a chain of title as to ownership of the mortgage loan (for transfers after May 20, 2009) and verify whether any representations made in court pleadings or foreclosure documents are accurate. Failure to comply with the disclosure requirement gives rise to a private right of action against the creditor/new owner that failed to notify the borrower.

3. Send a “Qualified Written Request” under RESPA

Any written request for identification of the mortgage owner sent to the servicer will not only trigger rights under 15 U.S.C. § 1641(f) discussed earlier, but will also be a “qualified written request” under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act. Under RESPA, a borrower may submit a “qualified written request” to request information concerning the servicing of the loan or to dispute account errors. Because the servicer acts as an agent for the mortgage owner in its relationship with the borrower, a request for information about the owner should satisfy the requirement that the request be related to loan servicing. The request may be sent by the borrower’s agent, and this has been construed to include a trustee in a bankruptcy case filed by the borrower. Details about how to send the request are covered in § 8.2.2 of NCLC Foreclosures. The servicer has 20 business days after receipt to acknowledge the request, and must comply within 60 business days of receipt. Damages, costs and attorneys fees are available for violations, as well as statutory damages up to $1,000 in the case of a pattern and practice of noncompliance. 

4. Review the RESPA Transfer of Servicing Notices

Finding the loan servicer is generally easier because the borrower is likely getting regular correspondence from that entity. Still, the law requires that formal servicing transfer notices are to be provided to borrowers, and reviewing these can provide helpful information. RESPA provides that the originating lender must disclose at the time of loan application whether servicing of the loan may be assigned during the term of the mortgage. In addition, the borrower must be notified when loan servicing is transferred document.” If MERS members do not agree with this interpretation, they can opt out of MERS InvestorID and presumably send their own notice.

See 15 U.S.C. § 1640(a).

12 U.S.C. § 2605(e). See also NCLC Foreclosures, § 8.2.2.

12 U.S.C. § 2605(e)(1)(A); In re Laskowski, 384 B.R. 518 (Bankr.N.D.Ind. 2008

(chapter 13 trustee, as agent of consumer debtor, and the debtor each have standing to send a qualified written request).

12 U.S.C. § 2605(e)(2).

12 U.S.C. § 2605(f).

12 U.S.C. § 2650(a). See NCLC Foreclosures, § 8.2.3.

after the loan is made. Failure of the servicer to comply with the servicing transfer requirements subjects the servicer to liability for actual damages, statutory damages, costs and attorney fees.18 Unlike the TILA requirement discussed earlier, RESPA is limited to the transfer of servicing; it does not require notice of any transfers of ownership of the note and mortgage. 

5. Go to Fannie and Freddie’s Web Portals

To facilitate several voluntary loan modification programs implemented by the U.S.Treasury, both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac allow borrowers to contact them to determine if they own a loan. Borrowers and advocates can either call a toll-free number or enter the property’s street address, unit, city, state, and ZIP code on a website. The website information, however, sometimes refers to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac as “owners” when in fact their participation may have been as the party that had initially purchased the loans on the secondary market and later arranged for their securitization and transfer to a trust entity which ultimately holds the loan. 

6. Check the Local Registry of Deeds

Checking the local registry where deeds and assignments are recorded is another way to identify the actual owner. But do not rely solely on the registry of deeds to identify the obligation’s current holder of the obligation, as many assignments are not recorded. In fact, if MERS is named as the mortgagee, typically as “nominee” for the lender and its assigns, then mortgage assignments will not be recorded in the registry of deeds. A call to MERS is not helpful as MERS currently will only disclose the name of the servicer and not the owner. In addition, some assignments may be solely for the administrative convenience of the servicer, in which case the servicer may appear as the owner of the mortgage loan.

12 U.S.C. § 2650(b). See NCLC Foreclosures, § 8.2.3.

12 U.S.C. § 2650(f). See NCLC Foreclosures, § 8.2.6.

See, e.g., Daw v. Peoples Bank & Trust Co., 5 Fed.Appx. 504 (7th Cir. 2001).

See 27 NCLC REPORTS, Bankruptcy and Foreclosures Ed., Mar/Apr 2009.

For Fannie Mae call 1-800-7FANNIE (8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST); Freddie Mac call 1-800-

FREDDIE (8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST).

Fannie Mae Loan Lookup, at http://www.fanniemae.com/homeaffordable; Freddie Mac Self-

Service Lookup, at http://www.freddiemac.com/corporate.

See NCLC Foreclosures, § 4.3.4A.

The telephone number for the automated system is 888-679-6377. When calling MERS to obtain information on a loan, you must supply MERS with the MIN number or a Social Security number. The MIN number should appear on the face of the mortgage.

You may also search by property address or by other mortgage identification numbers by using MERS’s online search tool at http://www.mers-servicerid.org. 68700-001

When Homeowner’s good faith attempts to amicably work with the Bank in order to resolve the issue fails;

Home owners should wake up TODAY! before it’s too late by mustering enough courage for “Pro Se” Litigation (Self Representation – Do it Yourself) against the Lender – for Mortgage Fraud and other State and Federal law violations using foreclosure defense package found at https://fightforeclosure.net/foreclosure-defense-package/ “Pro Se” litigation will allow Homeowners to preserved their home equity, saves Attorneys fees by doing it “Pro Se” and pursuing a litigation for Mortgage Fraud, Unjust Enrichment, Quiet Title and Slander of Title; among other causes of action. This option allow the homeowner to stay in their home for 3-5 years for FREE without making a red cent in mortgage payment, until the “Pretender Lender” loses a fortune in litigation costs to high priced Attorneys which will force the “Pretender Lender” to early settlement in order to modify the loan; reducing principal and interest in order to arrive at a decent figure of the monthly amount the struggling homeowner could afford to pay.

If you find yourself in an unfortunate situation of losing or about to lose your home to wrongful fraudulent foreclosure, and need a complete package that will show you step-by-step litigation solutions helping you challenge these fraudsters and ultimately saving your home from foreclosure either through loan modification or “Pro Se” litigation visit: https://fightforeclosure.net/foreclosure-defense-package/

What Homeowners Must Know About Reinstating their Mortgage Loan

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Once you fall behind on your mortgage, the amount you’re behind is called the arrears.

In the past, we have discussed how you may have loan modification options available to you that let you stay in your home and resume making mortgage payments without having to pay your arrears all at once.

But sometimes homeowners would rather pay their arrears, get current on their mortgage loan and resume making their regular mortgage payments.

This is called reinstating your loan. Reinstating your loan means you pay the entire amount you’re behind (arrears) plus all related fees (such as interest and late fees) to bring your loan current. After you reinstate, your loan will appear as paid to date in the lender’s records and you will resume making your original mortgage payments.

If you have fallen behind on your mortgage payments and want to reinstate your loan, your first step is to determine whether the lender has initiated the foreclosure process.

Reinstating before the foreclosure process has started

If you’re not in the foreclosure process yet, you want to cure the default on the loan. You need to ask your lender to give you a reinstatement quote. This document can be issued 30 days in advance of your payment date. For example, on May 1 you can order a reinstatement quote good through June 1 so you know how much will be due in 30 days.

If you pay the amount listed on the reinstatement quote, the default will be cured and you can resume making regular mortgage payments. The lender will then be unable to start foreclosure.

Make sure you pay the full amount listed on the reinstatement quote

Simply adding up missed mortgage payments and sending that amount may not be the actual amount due. Based on the terms you signed in your original note, the lender may add late fees for missed payments. If you don’t pull a reinstatement quote and send only what you believe is owed, the lender may deem this a partial payment. They will likely keep the partial payment but refuse to show the loan as fully up to date. This could lead to foreclosure.

Don’t accept any verbal reinstatement payoff amount, whether on the phone or in person. Make the lender give you the quote in writing. Verbal reinstatement amounts may be inaccurate and they may change. They are also impossible to verify later. If you send payment based on a verbal quote, the lender could change their mind and you would have no way to prove what they originally told you.

Reinstating after the foreclosure process has started

If you have fallen behind on your mortgage payments and want to pay your arrears but your loan has entered the foreclosure process, rather than talk to your lender, work with the Trustee. The Trustee is the party who issued your Notice of Trustee’s Sale (NOTS). Their contact information should be listed in the NOTS.

Once a lender starts foreclosure and hires a Trustee, the Trustee is in charge of the foreclosure. They are responsible for documenting and holding all reinstatement amounts and quotes.

Things to know and things you should do:

  • Legal fees paid to the Trustee by the lender may be added to your total reinstatement amount. So, if you decide to reinstate the loan you may see additional legal fees added to the total amount due.
  • Make sure you receive your reinstatement quote directly from the Trustee, not the lender. At this point in the process, to ensure that you’re making a full payment, the Trustee is the only one who has that number.
  • Make the request in writing. Include your name, loan number, and Trustee Sale number found on your NOTS. Write “Please send me a reinstatement quote good through (Date) at (my contact information).”
  • Fax the request to the fax number provided on the NOTS and to your lender. Call the Trustee to make sure they received the fax and continue to follow up until they send you the quote.
  • In the state of Washington, you’re allowed to reinstate your loan up to 11 days before your foreclosure sale date. If you believe reinstatement is the right move for you, make sure you request the quote and gather the funds so you can send payment before that 11-day mark.
  • Ask your Trustee how they would like to receive payment. Most Trustees want a cashier’s check made out to the Trustee but payment processes are different for each Trustee. Have this conversation with them before you make payment.

How does reinstatement affect foreclosure?

If you fully reinstate before the 11-day deadline, the Trustee will cancel the foreclosure of your home and withdraw from the case.

You will resume making monthly mortgage payments outlined in your original loan.

You have to track your foreclosure date to make sure the sale actually is canceled. Get written confirmation from the Trustee that they have canceled the sale.

Are the fees attached to the reinstatement quotes negotiable?

Sometimes. It is important to review all late fees and attorney’s fees attached to the reinstatement quote. Some Trustees and Lenders will take advantage of a reinstatement situation by tacking on fees in excess of work performed. There is little regulation on these fees, so it is important to review the fees carefully.

If you see something that looks excessive, request a full accounting of each fee. The Trustee should be able to provide you a breakdown of how they arrived at the reported fees. Request a breakdown for excessive late fees sent by the lender to make sure they only reflect legal late fees for missed mortgage payments.

Are there any exceptions to the 11-day requirement to reinstate?

If you believe that you may be able to reinstate your loan, but not before the 11-day deadline, reach out to the Trustee and tell them your situation.

If you can prove that you fully intend to reinstate and have the ability to do so, the Trustee or lender may provide you more time in order to reinstate the loan. Reinstatement is generally good for lenders. They want you to pay them back and get current. Many times, lenders agree to postpone foreclosure in order to allow you to reinstate, but you have to demonstrate your ability to reinstate in a persuasive way.

We recommend putting together a package including:

  1. signed and dated letter stating that you intend to reinstate the loan
    • Include how you plan to come up with the funds
    • Give a date for when you’ll have the funds
    • Ask for a foreclosure postponement of a certain time (e.g. 15 days, 30 days, etc.). Asking for a general, indefinite postponement likely won’t work.
    • Do everything you can to indicate that you are serious about wanting to reinstate
  2. Proof of funding: Demonstrate how you will come up with the funds. For example, if the funds are in a retirement account, send the retirement fund statement showing that the money is there. If you are borrowing the money, have the people you’re borrowing from sign and notarize a letter stating that they will be lending you money. Include the amount borrowed and the source.

Fax the package to the lender and the Trustee. Call to make sure they received the fax. While you’re on the phone, find out who is looking at your request and see if you can email them directly. It is not enough to simply fax the package, you have to push both the lender and the Trustee to pay attention to your request.

Is a partial payment ever acceptable?

It may be an option for you to offer a partial payment of the full reinstatement amount in order to get a postponement that will give you time to gather the full funds. Lenders may agree to take a portion of money in exchange for foreclosure postponement.

Be careful with this option. Unless you are absolutely, 100% certain you will be able to fully reinstate, you shouldn’t send money or you may lose it. Never send money without an agreement in writing that the lender will postpone in exchange for a lump sum received.

Because you’re in default, the lender will keep the money you paid regardless of whether you’re able to fully reinstate. Don’t do this unless you know will be able to come up with the rest of the money.

Modification options instead of reinstatement

If you’re barely making it through the month in your current financial situation, reinstating the loan may not be the best solution for you. If the reasons why you defaulted are still part of your life, it may be better for you to pursue an alternative like a loan modification or a short sale so you can get to a more affordable housing situation.

Some homeowners think reinstatement is the only way to stay in their home. That’s not always true.

Don’t spend thousands of dollars to get current on a loan you may not be able to maintain. Call us to learn about all your options to tailor the best plan to fit your situation.

If you think you want to reinstate, keep it as your last option. After all, you can reinstate all the way up until 11 days before the foreclosure sale. Other options may allow you to stay in your home and avoid having to pay a large lump sum.

When Homeowner’s good faith attempts to amicably work with the Bank in order to resolve the issue fails;

Home owners should wake up TODAY! before it’s too late by mustering enough courage for “Pro Se” Litigation (Self Representation – Do it Yourself) against the Lender – for Mortgage Fraud and other State and Federal law violations using foreclosure defense package found at https://fightforeclosure.net/foreclosure-defense-package/ “Pro Se” litigation will allow Homeowners to preserved their home equity, saves Attorneys fees by doing it “Pro Se” and pursuing a litigation for Mortgage Fraud, Unjust Enrichment, Quiet Title and Slander of Title; among other causes of action. This option allow the homeowner to stay in their home for 3-5 years for FREE without making a red cent in mortgage payment, until the “Pretender Lender” loses a fortune in litigation costs to high priced Attorneys which will force the “Pretender Lender” to early settlement in order to modify the loan; reducing principal and interest in order to arrive at a decent figure of the monthly amount the struggling homeowner could afford to pay.

If you find yourself in an unfortunate situation of losing or about to lose your home to wrongful fraudulent foreclosure, and need a complete package that will show you step-by-step litigation solutions helping you challenge these fraudsters and ultimately saving your home from foreclosure either through loan modification or “Pro Se” litigation visit: https://fightforeclosure.net/foreclosure-defense-package/

 

What Homeowners Must Know After they Have Been Sued in a Bankruptcy Adversary Proceeding

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This post will be helpful to the Debtor when defending against a creditor’s/trustee’s objection to your discharge or the filing of a Complaint for Nondischargeability based upon fraud/conversion; however, this post may also assist the Debtor in bringing an adversary proceeding should one be necessary.

Introduction

An adversary proceeding is a lawsuit brought within your bankruptcy. This lawsuit normally centers around whether a particular debt or all of your debts are dischargeable (or forgiven) through the act of your filing bankruptcy. These lawsuits usually focus around some alleged improper act on your part, including fraud, misrepresentation, or your failure to abide by the Bankruptcy Code and accompanying Rules.

You are now at the point of the adversary process where you have received, by mail or by personal service, the complaint filed by your creditor which asks the Court to decide whether or not that particular obligation should be part of your bankruptcy discharge or an objection to your overall discharge should be granted.

This section of the adversary proceeding packet is to inform you of what your obligations are in order to prepare for a trial. Note that there are references to the bankruptcy rules: Local Rules of Bankruptcy Practice = LR; Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure = Fed.R.Bankr.P. You may also find both types of Rules at the county law library or you may access the Local Rules at the court’s website http://www.uscourts.gov. You should take a look at these rules if you have any questions about the information given in this section.

Step 1: Answer

After you receive a complaint, you must file an answer with the clerk of the Bankruptcy Court within 30 days after issuance of the summons. (Fed.R.Bankr.P. 7012) You must provide a copy of that answer to the creditor’s attorney.

Step 2: Pre-Trial Conference

Note that the cover sheet you receive from the Court will set forth a pre-trial conference date in the lower right-hand corner of the Summons. You must attend that hearing. At that time, the Court will set parameters for trial. The Court may also discuss with the parties whether or not any settlement is possible. Prior to this pre-trial conference with the Court, and within thirty (30) days after you have answered the complaint, you are required to meet with the attorney for the creditor to discuss how discovery will be conducted in the case. After you have had this discussion and no later than fourteen (14) days after the meeting with the attorney, the parties are required to submit a discovery plan. (Fed.R.Bankr.P. 7016 and LR 7016) This plan is a form which the creditor’s counsel will have and will be filled out by both parties. The form will then be submitted to the Court and the Court will then approve, disapprove or modify the discovery plan and enter any other orders that may be appropriate.

Step 3: Discovery

After you have gone through the preparation of the discovery plan and have had it approved by the Court, you will then conduct your discovery. Local Rule 7026 will provide you with information as to what the parties may or may not do during the discovery process. You may also want to look at Local Rules 7026 through and including 7036 and Fed.R.Bankr.P. 7026 through and including 7036 which gives further information regarding some of the discovery tools or requirements.

Step 4: Motions

You may find that throughout the time frame prior to trial that motions are being filed. Motions may be filed by either party. If you are served with a motion in your adversary proceeding, please be advised that you are required to file your opposition or response with the Court and serve your response to the creditor’s attorney not more than fifteen (15) days after you have received the motion and, in no event, not later than five (5) business days prior to the date set for the hearing on the motion. (Fed.R.Bankr.P. 9013 and Local Rule 9014) Make sure that you provide counsel with a copy of your response.

When you get to Court, you are basically going to supplement what is in your opposition or your motion so the Court can make a well-informed analysis of the situation and then deliver an appropriate decision. Please note that when you are in front of the Court, your time is limited. Generally, a motion is limited to approximately five minutes for both sides. It is the feeling of all judges in our district that if all motions and oppositions are well-drafted and timely filed, there is no reason to spend lengthy periods with oral argument. Therefore, you will be expected to come in to court, make a brief presentation and then sit down.

Step 5: Trial

After you have completed all discovery and all motions, you will then be at the point where the parties are ready to proceed with trial. Your trial date will be assigned to you at the pre-trial conference and the Court will generally schedule the trial within 60 and 120 days depending upon the nature of the matter being tried.

Approximately two weeks prior to the trial, you are required to file with the Court a trial statement, a list of witnesses, and a list of exhibits. You must also exchange these documents with the attorney for the creditor. If you and the attorney for the creditor can agree on what the basic issues in trial are going to be, the trial statement may be filed jointly. In other words, one statement will represent the facts and information for both sides to the Court.

The day before the trial, the parties will mark all the exhibits and any supplemental information that needs to be added to the trial statements. Although you are not required to agree with the attorney for the creditor as to what exhibits may be introduced into evidence, it is strongly encouraged that the parties try to agree to all exhibits to be placed before the Court in an effort to have an economical and efficient adjudication of the case.

Certain documents have been included in this packet so that you will have the ability to understand what needs to be filed with the Court prior to trial. However, it is strongly recommended that you access the court’s website at http://www.uscourts.gov and download a copy of the Local Rules. These will prove very useful to you through the course of the adversary proceeding. You may also wish to check with the county law library for a copy of the Local Rules.

All bankruptcy judges are willing to set up a time to discuss whether or not the case may be settled. Many times, having an impartial third party listening to the problems will allow negotiations to flow freely and hopefully obviate the need for the trial. If a settlement conference is set up, it will not be the judge in front of whom this matter will be heard, so you need not fear that you will be prejudiced in any way if this matter is not settled.

COURTROOM ETIQUETTE BETWEEN THE COURT AND THE PARTIES

1.  Don’t take the argument personally (no personal slurs against the other party.)

2. Advocacy does not mean we cannot be civil and communicate with the other side.

3. Adversary proceedings are intended to be negotiated if possible.

4. If you cannot resolve the matter and proceed to trial, remember the following:

a. Dress Appropriately- Nice attire such as a suit or slacks is acceptable. Please no hats, shorts, thongs, tank tops, etc.

b. Your statements should be addressed to the court and not to the other side- The only time you should speak to opposing counsel is during breaks or with the Court’s permission after requesting a break.

a. Do not interrupt the other side or the judge when they are speaking.

b. Remember to follow the rules as explained in the attached documents regarding the filing of your trial statement, list of exhibits, witnesses, etc.

DEALING WITH THE LAW

1. Understand your responsibilities and respond accordingly. You are held to the same standard as an attorney when presenting your case and arguing the legal issues. You may need to educate yourself on the law at issue by visiting the law library and reading the Bankruptcy Code and cases dealing with those sections of the code involving your case.

2. Sanctions – Remember that if you act disrespectful to the Court or opposing attorney, or if you lie in your court pleadings or under oath at trial, the Court has the power to sanction you by either assessing a fee or ruling for the opposing party.

3. If you have any questions regarding your responsibilities, call the other side’s attorney they will answer procedural questions, but cannot assist you with your legal argument.

4. Know the Local Rules – you can obtain a copy by accessing the court’s website at http://www.uscourts.gov You may also be able to obtain the rules from the county law library or from opposing counsel.

 When Homeowner’s good faith attempts to amicably work with the Bank in order to resolve the issue fails;

Home owners should wake up TODAY! before it’s too late by mustering enough courage for “Pro Se” Litigation (Self Representation – Do it Yourself) against the Lender – for Mortgage Fraud and other State and Federal law violations using foreclosure defense package found at https://fightforeclosure.net/foreclosure-defense-package/ “Pro Se” litigation will allow Homeowners to preserved their home equity, saves Attorneys fees by doing it “Pro Se” and pursuing a litigation for Mortgage Fraud, Unjust Enrichment, Quiet Title and Slander of Title; among other causes of action. This option allow the homeowner to stay in their home for 3-5 years for FREE without making a red cent in mortgage payment, until the “Pretender Lender” loses a fortune in litigation costs to high priced Attorneys which will force the “Pretender Lender” to early settlement in order to modify the loan; reducing principal and interest in order to arrive at a decent figure of the monthly amount the struggling homeowner could afford to pay.

If you find yourself in an unfortunate situation of losing or about to lose your home to wrongful fraudulent foreclosure, and need a complete package that will show you step-by-step litigation solutions helping you challenge these fraudsters and ultimately saving your home from foreclosure either through loan modification or “Pro Se” litigation visit: https://fightforeclosure.net/foreclosure-defense-package/

What Homeowners Must Know About Fake Mass Joinder & Other Lawsuits

Fake Mass Joinder & Other Lawsuits

“You’re eligible to join our lawsuit”

On average, complaints that allege some type of attorney involvement have produced greater losses per homeowner than all other complaints. While attorneys can be involved in any type of foreclosure rescue fraud, they are uniquely capable of tricking homeowners into believing they can get involved in fake mass joinder or other lawsuit against a lender. The lawsuit schemes can prove to be even more painful for homeowners because they often involve two parts: first a fee for a “forensic audit” to see if the homeowner is eligible to join the suit, then another fee to join the suit.

Most promise very impressive results, like the homeowner who was told she could “join a class action lawsuit against her lender. Once this was settled she was guaranteed $75,000.” The final selling point for many of these lawsuits is the assurances made to homeowners that nothing can happen to their homes as long as they are part of the suit. Some attorneys advise homeowners to stop paying their mortgage and instead pay monthly retainer fees to them. Month after month, homeowners pay the fee, believing the attorney is fighting for them. In the worst cases, the homeowner doesn’t realize the attorney is actually providing no service at all until a foreclosure notice arrives.

One senior citizen from Williamstown, New Jersey, was contacted by a group of attorneys who guaranteed him a loan modification for just over four thousand dollars. After they allegedly reviewed his documents and made “headway” with the bank regarding a loan modification, they informed him that he was eligible to join a lawsuit against his lender. The suit included over twenty thousand homeowners and they assured him that the lender would settle. At that point the homeowner began making monthly retainer payments of just over a thousand dollars, for eleven months, for a suit that never happened. On top of all of that, the attorneys advised him to stop making his mortgage payments.

When Homeowner’s good faith attempts to amicably work with the Bank in order to resolve the issue fails;

Home owners should wake up TODAY! before it’s too late by mustering enough courage for “Pro Se” Litigation (Self Representation – Do it Yourself) against the Lender – for Mortgage Fraud and other State and Federal law violations using foreclosure defense package found at https://fightforeclosure.net/foreclosure-defense-package/ “Pro Se” litigation will allow Homeowners to preserved their home equity, saves Attorneys fees by doing it “Pro Se” and pursuing a litigation for Mortgage Fraud, Unjust Enrichment, Quiet Title and Slander of Title; among other causes of action. This option allow the homeowner to stay in their home for 3-5 years for FREE without making a red cent in mortgage payment, until the “Pretender Lender” loses a fortune in litigation costs to high priced Attorneys which will force the “Pretender Lender” to early settlement in order to modify the loan; reducing principal and interest in order to arrive at a decent figure of the monthly amount the struggling homeowner could afford to pay.

If you find yourself in an unfortunate situation of losing or about to lose your home to wrongful fraudulent foreclosure, and need a complete package that will show you step-by-step litigation solutions helping you challenge these fraudsters and ultimately saving your home from foreclosure either through loan modification or “Pro Se” litigation visit: https://fightforeclosure.net/foreclosure-defense-package/

What Homeowners in Foreclosure Must Know About TRO and Injunction

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Very few people fully appreciate the powerful and flexible remedy offered by an injunction. Injunctions are extraordinary, both in terms of their timing and their effectiveness. Certain injunctions are issued with a rapidity otherwise unknown in the American legal system. Injunctions frequently have consequences so sweeping that they effectively shut down operating businesses or otherwise affect dramatically the rights of the parties involved in an irreversible manner – even when the requested injunction is refused. Two illustrative examples of the power of injunctions which have recently been seared into the American consciousness are the injunction against further ballot counting in Florida following the 2001 presidential election and the injunction ordering Napster, the Internet music swapping service, to cease and desist from operating.

Simply put, injunction proceedings are high stakes poker. If a party plays its first hand wrong, the game may be over before another hand is dealt. This article will explore the remedies available in an injunction proceeding, the timing implications involved in either seeking or defending an injunction, and the particular hallmarks incident to various kinds of injunctions.

The Remedies Available Through An Injunction

The only limitation on remedies available through an injunction is the creativity of counsel or of the judge hearing the case. Generally speaking, there are two kinds of relief available through an injunction: prohibitory and mandatory. A prohibitory injunction is the most common form of injunction, and directs a party to refrain from acting in a certain manner. Examples of a prohibitory injunction are cease and desist orders (entered against Napster), or an order stopping a bulldozer prior to the razing of an historic building. Injunctions can also be mandatory, however, in which case the court directs a party to take affirmative action. Examples of this kind of injunction were seen in the school integration and busing cases prevalent several decades ago. Whether prohibitory or mandatory, the only limit on the power of the trial judge (other than the role of appeals courts) is that the remedy selected be reasonably suited to abate the threatened harm and that the court be in a position to enforce its own order and assess a party’s compliance.

The Timing Implications Involved In Seeking Or Defending An Injunction

Similar to the type of remedy, courts and parties have significant flexibility regarding timing, so long as the party seeking an injunction is not guilty of unreasonable delay in requesting the court’s assistance. What constitutes “unreasonable” delay will vary from case to case. There are three kinds of injunction requests, which vary by the timing of the request. The first is called an ex parte injunction (also sometimes popularly known as a temporary restraining order, or TRO. The technical name for such an injunction in the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure is “special relief”). The other two kinds of injunctions are preliminary injunctions and permanent injunctions.

Ex Parte Injunctions

Ex parte injunctions are appropriate only when the threatened harm is so immediate and so severe that even giving the other party notice of the application for the injunction and an opportunity to be heard in opposition is not practical. Ex parte literally means one-sided. A party seeking the entry of an ex parte order (without the involvement of or even notification to the other party most directly affected) has an exceedingly heavy burden in convincing a judge the emergency warrants such extreme action. By definition, there will not be even minimal due process afforded to the affected party; therefore, the courts’ rules require certain safeguards to protect it. For example, in state court in Pennsylvania, an interim order granted on an ex parte basis may not remain in effect for more than five days without the commencement of a hearing. Furthermore, the party seeking such an injunction also has the obligation to post a monetary bond which the judge deems sufficient to compensate the affected party if it is later determined that the ex parte injunction should not have been granted.

During an ex parte injunction hearing, there is frequently no actual hearing. Although a judge is free to insist upon a full evidentiary presentation, he or she usually permits these applications to be presented in chambers. The presentation of such an application represents one of the only instances in our legal system where one party’s attorney has the opportunity to sit down with the judge and render an entirely one-sided version of the matter before the court. Although the lawyer is acting as an advocate for his client, he or she must be scrupulously honest and avoid exaggerating the circumstances. Engaging in any form of overreach throughout this onesided process can have disastrous effects on both counsel and client, once the adversely-affected party is represented and has an opportunity to tell its side of the story. For obvious reasons, judges react very poorly to being sandbagged.

There is no requirement that a party seeking injunctive relief make a request for ex parte relief. Instead, because judges are very reluctant to grant such requests, and given the heavy burden involved in all actions for injunctions, it’s wise for a client not to risk its credibility before the court by asking for ex parte injunctive relief unless it is truly necessary. Counsel will advise requesting ex parte relief only where circumstances are very favorable.

Preliminary Injunctions

A preliminary injunction represents the most common form of injunctive relief requested. A preliminary injunction differs from an ex parte injunction in that the affected party is given notice that the application has been filed and has an opportunity to appear and be heard at a formal hearing where both parties may present evidence. Unlike ex parte injunction practice, a preliminary injunction almost always involves an evidentiary presentation in open court. Although not a full-blown trial, these hearings are critically important and set the stage for any litigation to come. In many cases, these hearings – and the judge’s reaction to them – constitute the entirety of the litigation.

More often than not, preliminary injunction hearings are conducted without the benefit of a significant amount of time to prepare and without the benefit of discovery, through which documents and testimony from the other side and its witnesses can be obtained prior to the hearing. Therefore, unless the party seeking the injunction is certain it fully understands the case and is completely prepared to present its case at hearing, it is a good idea to attempt to secure a court order to allow for limited discovery in preparation for the hearing to be conducted on an expedited basis, sometimes the very day before the hearing.

At the hearing, the party seeking the injunction has the burden of convincing the judge of a number of things. (Injunction requests are presented to a judge sitting without a jury. Therefore, the more counsel knows about the judge, including his or her political and ideological leanings, the better). Among the elements which must be proven by the party seeking the injunction are: (1) it has no adequate remedy other than an injunction (such as money damages); (2) truly irreparable harm will occur in the absence of an injunction; (3) it is more likely than not that the moving party will prevail on the underlying merits when the matter ultimately goes to trial; (4) the benefit to the party seeking the injunction outweighs the burden of the party opposed to the injunction; and (5) the moving party’s right to the relief sought is clear.

Although these are somewhat flexible – even vague – standards, the judge must be satisfied that all of these elements have been satisfactorily proven prior to granting an injunction. Needless to say, it is easier for the defendant to argue that one or more of these five elements has not been satisfactorily proven than it is for the moving party’s lawyer to argue that all five have been proven. The law sets such exacting standards because the consequences of an injunction can be so dramatic.

The Role of the Injunction Bond

The purpose of the injunction bond is to protect the party against whom the injunction has been entered in the event it is later determined that the injunction should not have been granted. Assuming the judge is persuaded by the proof at the hearing and is willing to grant an injunction, a determination as to the appropriate amount for the injunction bond must be made. The party seeking the injunction will predictably argue that its proof has been so strong that only a nominal bond should be required. Conversely, the adversary will argue that only a significant bond will be adequate to protect his or her client. The judge must balance these competing arguments. Particularly in the event that the judge had any reservation regarding the strength of the moving party’s case, the setting of the bond is another manner in which he or she may protect the interests of the party to be enjoined. There are circumstances where the bond is so sizable that the moving party, which has successfully demonstrated its entitlement to an injunction, will not or cannot satisfy the bonding requirement. In such a case the injunction will not become effective: No bond, no injunction. Thus, it is possible that a party can lose on the merits at the hearing, but never actually be enjoined due to its adversary’s failure to post the required bond.

The Role of the Appellate Court

Most court orders are not subject to an appeal until the case is over in all respects. Orders affecting injunctions, however, are exceptions to this rule. A party dissatisfied with a judge’s decision regarding an injunction – whether that decision grants, denies, modifies, dissolves or otherwise affects an injunction – has an immediate right to appeal that judge’s ruling in both the state or the federal court systems. However, although an appeal is available, it will usually prove extremely difficult to overturn the trial judge’s decision because of the manner in which appellate courts review decisions concerning injunctions. Furthermore, in all but the rarest of occasions, the injunction will remain in place throughout the appeal process, which can itself be lengthy.

Essentially, the court system recognizes that decisions involving injunctions are necessarily made in a somewhat subjective manner and are also made under sometimes severe time constraints. Appellate courts therefore defer to trial judges’ findings and generally believe that the judge who heard the evidence first-hand is in the best position to evaluate the case. As a result, the standard on appeal is very narrow: The trial judge’s decision will be upheld if there is any evidence in the record to support the decision. It doesn’t matter whether the appellate judges would have reached the same decision or not. The thinking is that the trial court should exercise its discretion in the first instance and, if there is more than one plausible interpretation of the evidence, the trial court’s acceptance of any particular interpretation cannot be an abuse of that discretion.

Permanent Injunctions

There is no requirement that a party seeking permanent injunctive relief first request either ex parte or preliminary relief. A permanent injunction may be sought as part of the full trial on the merits in an action, regardless of the outcome of prior proceedings in the case. In reality, however, many injunction cases do not proceed this far because, as previously indicated, the earlier proceedings (the granting or refusal of an ex parte or preliminary injunction) frequently alter the landscape so significantly that further proceedings are never pursued.

Sometimes, however, a permanent injunction is sought following previous proceedings. A permanent injunction may be sought, for example, where a party has been dissatisfied with the outcome of a preliminary injunction proceeding, but remains adamant about securing its rights. With the chances of a successful appeal so low, either the winner or the loser at the preliminary injunction level may elect to press on with discovery and attempt to convince the trial judge to change his or her decision after hearing all of the evidence. (Naturally, the judge’s first impression is always hard to overcome.) As with any order affecting an injunction, a dissatisfied party may appeal from any order entered in consideration of a request for permanent injunction. With a fully developed trial record, the appellate court will be somewhat less deferential to the trial court’s conclusion, yet a successful appeal remains difficult.

Injunctions are particularly powerful and flexible tools, which can have dramatic consequences to the parties involved. Homeowners can use injunction to delay moving out of the property while wrongful foreclosure Appeal is pending. A Homeowner seeking an injunction or attempting to defend against one should be well versed how these procedures works, if you are litigating Pro Se, or Secure counsel familiar with the intricacies of injunction practice.

When Homeowner’s good faith attempts to amicably work with the Bank in order to resolve the issue fails;

Home owners should wake up TODAY! before it’s too late by mustering enough courage for “Pro Se” Litigation (Self Representation – Do it Yourself) against the Lender – for Mortgage Fraud and other State and Federal law violations using foreclosure defense package found at https://fightforeclosure.net/foreclosure-defense-package/ “Pro Se” litigation will allow Homeowners to preserved their home equity, saves Attorneys fees by doing it “Pro Se” and pursuing a litigation for Mortgage Fraud, Unjust Enrichment, Quiet Title and Slander of Title; among other causes of action. This option allow the homeowner to stay in their home for 3-5 years for FREE without making a red cent in mortgage payment, until the “Pretender Lender” loses a fortune in litigation costs to high priced Attorneys which will force the “Pretender Lender” to early settlement in order to modify the loan; reducing principal and interest in order to arrive at a decent figure of the monthly amount the struggling homeowner could afford to pay.

If you find yourself in an unfortunate situation of losing or about to lose your home to wrongful fraudulent foreclosure, and need a complete package that will show you step-by-step litigation solutions helping you challenge these fraudsters and ultimately saving your home from foreclosure either through loan modification or “Pro Se” litigation visit: https://fightforeclosure.net/foreclosure-defense-package/

What Pro Se Homeowners Must Know About Appellate Issues and Record on Appeal

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Trying cases is one of the most exciting things a litigator does during his or her career but it is also certainly one of the most stressful.

While over 90% of the cases never make it to trial before settlement, if your case is one of the 10% or less that made it to trial, as a Pro Se litigator, there are few things to bear in mind.

A study conducted few years back shows that About 97 percent of civil cases are settled or dismissed without a trial. The number tried in court fell from 22,451 in 1992 to 11,908 in 2001, according to the study. Plaintiffs won 55 percent of the cases and received $4.4 billion in damages.

Homeowners litigating their wrongful foreclosure cases Pro Se are not Attorneys by profession, however, this post is designed to help Homeowners perfect and win their wrongful foreclosure Appeals.

Your case on appeal can be greatly improved by focusing on potential appellate issues and the record on appeal from the start of a case until the finish.

While in the trenches during trial, many litigators understandably focus all of their energies on winning the case at hand. But a good litigator knows that trial is often not the last say in the outcome of a case. The final outcome often rests at the appellate level, where a successful trial outcome can be affirmed, reversed, or something in between. The likelihood of success many times hinges on the substance of the record on appeal. The below discusses a variety of issues that Pro Se trial litigators should keep in mind as they prepare and present their case so they position themselves in the best possible way for any appeals that follow.

Prepare Your Appellate Record From The Moment Your Case Begins

Perhaps one of the biggest misconceptions regarding preserving an adequate record on appeal is when a Pro Se litigant should start considering what should be in the record. In short, the answer is from the moment the complaint is filed. At that time, Pro Se Litigants should begin to think carefully about the elements of each asserted cause of action, potential defenses and their required elements, and the burden of proof for each. Every pleading should be drafted carefully to ensure that no arguments are waived in the event they are needed for an appeal. For instance, a complaint should allege with specificity all the factual and legal elements necessary to sustain a claim, while an answer should include any and all applicable affirmative defenses to avoid waiver. See, e.g., Travellers Int’l, A.G. v. Trans World Airlines, 41 F.3d 1570, 1580 (2d Cir. 1994) (“The general rule in federal courts is that a failure to plead an affirmative defense results in a waiver.”).

Likewise, if you file a motion to dismiss, ensure that the motion contains all the
necessary evidence that both a trial court and appellate court would need to find in your favor.

Of particular importance in federal court practice is the pre-trial order. Under Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 16, the pre-trial order establishes the boundaries of trial. See Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc. v. Capece, 141 F.3d 188, 206 (5th Cir.1998) (“It is a well-settled rule that a joint pre-trial order signed by both parties supersedes all pleadings and governs the issues and evidence to be presented at trial.”). If the pre-trial order does not contain the pertinent claims, defenses or arguments that you wish to present at trial, you are likely also going to be out of luck on appeal.

Later on in the case, as the factual record becomes more fully developed, consider
whether amending or supplementing the pleadings or other court submissions are necessary to make the record as accurate as possible. Most states follow the federal practice of allowing liberal amendments. However, these can be contested, particularly late in the process, closer to trial. While appellate review is often for abuse of discretion, formulating a strong motion in favor of or in opposition to an amendment can preserve the issue.

What to Keep in Mind as Your Case Proceeds

As the case develops, consider whether the elements you need to prove your case are
sufficiently reflected in the information you obtain during discovery. If not, determine whether there are ways to obtain the information you need well before trial starts. By the time trial arrives, it may be too late to supplement the record to get before the trial judge and the appellate court what you need to win your case. In that regard, anything you have in writing that gets submitted to the court may very well end up being part of the record on review, so make sure it is accurate and understandable. Incomprehensible or incomplete submissions can muddy your appellate record and damage a successful appellate proceeding. In the same vein, make sure
anything presented to the court prior to trial that you want to be part of the record is transcribed.

Otherwise, there will be an insufficient record on appeal. This is particularly so when it comes to discovery disputes. Although they are common in present day litigation, judges hate discovery disputes. To preserve discovery issues for appeal, be sure to get a ruling, and make sure it is reflected in writing. Moreover, carefully review every pre-trial court order or other judicial communication, including court minutes, to ensure accuracy. Attempting to make corrections during the appellate process may not be possible.

Another significant area for appellate issues is the failure to timely identify experts. This is subject to an abuse of discretion standard of review, so it is important that one builds a record on the issue, particularly regarding any prejudice suffered by the untimely disclosure.

After Discovery Closes – The Motion in Limine

Once discovery has closed, consider carefully any motions in limine you may want to
make. Although motions in limine are not strictly necessary, they are helpful in identifying evidentiary issues for the judge and litigant and increase the chances of a substantive objection, sidebar, and ruling when the issue arises at trial. One potential pitfall – some jurisdictions require a party to renew an objection at trial after a motion in limine has been denied, so make sure to do so if necessary. See, e.g., State ex. Rel Missouri Highway and Transp. Com’n v. Vitt, 785 S.W.2d 708, 711 (Mo. Ct. App. E.D. 1990) (“A motion in limine preserves nothing for review. Following denial of a motion in limine, a party must object at trial to preserve for appellate review the point at issue.”) (internal citation omitted). Also, if the Court delivers its ruling on a motion in limine orally, make sure it is transcribed properly by the court reporter.
Leave no doubt that you have raised (and obtained a ruling on) an issue.

Now the Trial – What to Keep in Mind

Above all else, when in doubt, object. Objections should be immediate and specifically describe the basis for the objection so the record is clear. Make the argument to win –
every objection should be more than just reciting labels, and should provide sufficient information for the trial judge to decide the issue. The goal is not to be coy with the trial judge and hope for a lucky break, but to be prepared to make an argument to win the issue at trial or, alternatively, on appeal. In addition, if you are the party proffering the evidence, make sure the proffer is on the record and that you expressly state why the evidence is being offered. This may require pressing on the judge to get the full objection on the record. If you fail to do so, you risk the appellate court not reviewing the claim on appeal. See, e.g., National Bank of Andover v. Kansas Bankers Sur. Co., 290 Kan. 247, 274-75 (2010) (observing “purpose of a proffer is to make an adequate record of the evidence to be introduced … [and] preserves the issue for appeal and provides the appellate court an adequate record to review when determining whether the trial court erred in excluding the evidence.”). Also, always be careful of waiving any issues for appeal by agreeing to a judge’s proposed compromise on evidentiary issues.

An important but often overlooked consideration is the courtroom layout and dynamics. Well-thought and timely objections will be for naught if they are not transcribed. Sometimes the courtroom layout can make record preservation difficult. For example, if objections are made at sidebar conferences where the court reporter is not present, those objections may not make their way into the appellate record or be dependent on the after the fact recollections of others. See, e.g., Ohio App. R. 9(c) (describing procedures for preparing statement of evidence where transcript of proceedings is unavailable and providing trial court with final authority for settlement and approval). This should be avoided whenever possible.

Beyond objections, make sure all the evidence you need for your appeal is properly admitted by the trial court before the close of your case. All exhibits that were used at trial should be formally moved into evidence if there is any doubt as to whether they will be needed on appeal. If you had previously moved for summary judgment and lost, make sure you take the necessary steps at trial to preserve those summary judgment issues, especially in jurisdictions that do not allow interlocutory appeals.

Another important aspect of the trial is the jury instructions. Jury instructions should always be complete. Remember that the instructions you propose can be denied without error if any aspect of them is not accurate, so break them into small bites so that the judge can at least accept some parts. Specifically object to any jury instructions as necessary before the jury begins its deliberations. See, e.g., Fed. R. Civ. P. 51(c). Failure to do so will waive the right to have the instruction considered on appeal. See, e.g., ChooseCo, LLC v. Lean Forward Media, LLC, 364 Fed. Appx. 670, 672 (2d Cir. 2010) (finding that defendant’s objection to jury instructions and verdict form during jury deliberations did not comply with Fed. R. Civ. P. 51(c) and noting that the “[f]ailure to object to a jury instruction or the form of an interrogatory prior to the jury retiring results in a waiver of that objection.”).

Additionally, when you lodge your objections, make sure you explain why the jury charge is in error since general objections are insufficient. See, e.g., Victory Outreach Center v. Meslo, 281 Fed. Appx. 136, 139 (3d Cir. 2008) (holding that general objection to the court’s jury instructions and proposed alternative instructions, “were insufficient to preserve on appeal all potential challenges to the instructions” and were not in compliance with Fed. R. Civ. P. 51(c)(1)). If possible, have a set of written objections to the other side’s jury charges, and get the judge to rule on that, since judges like to hold such conferences off the record.

Also, do not overlook the verdict form. Know that when you agree to a particular form (general or special), that will mean that you are probably taking certain risks and waiving certain arguments one way or the other. Give this thought, and make sure that you know the rules of your jurisdiction on verdict forms so you can object if necessary. See, e.g., Palm Bay Intern., Inc. v. Marchesi Di Barolo S.P.A., 796 F.Supp. 2d 396, 409 (E.D.N.Y. 2011) (objection to verdict sheet should be made before jury retires); Saridakis v. South Broward Hosp. Dist., 2010 WL 2274955, at *8 (S.D. Fla. 2010) (noting that Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 51(c)(2)(B) states that an objection is timely if “a party objects promptly after learning that the instruction or request will be … given or refused” and that the Eleventh Circuit “require[s] a party to object to a … jury verdict form prior to jury deliberations” or the party “waives its right to raise the issue on appeal.”). (internal quotations and citation omitted).

Finally, pay careful attention to the closing argument. This can be an area where winning at trial by convincing a jury may be at odds with preserving the issue on appeal. On the flip side, many litigators are loath to interrupt a closing argument to object. If you need to object to preserve an issue, do so.

Post-Judgment – Final Things to Consider

First, determine whether certain arguments must be made post-judgment to preserve those arguments for appeal. Some arguments (such as those attacking the sufficiency of the evidence) must be made at that time or they are waived. See, e.g., Webster v. Bass Enterprises Production Co., 114 Fed.Appx. 604, 605 (5th Cir. 2004) (holding that failure to challenge back pay award in post-judgment motion waived the issue on appeal absent exceptional circumstances that did not exist). Written motions post-judgment should include all relevant references to trial transcripts and evidence to make as complete and clean a factual record as possible.

Second, when the appellate record is being compiled, carefully double check the record to ensure its accuracy. Many times the trial court clerk or court reporter accidentally omits portions of the record. If this is not caught and corrected in a timely manner, you may be stuck with a bad record. Most jurisdictions have procedures in place for supplementing and correcting the record but understand them well in advance so there is adequate time to address any discrepancies before the appellate briefing is due.

Conclusion

Too often even seasoned trial lawyers get tripped up on appeal by not having an orderly and complete record. As a Pro Se litigator, you must never lose sight of the factual and legal issues in a case and what an appellate court will need to consider in making the desired determinations. As demonstrated above, a winning record requires thought at all stages of the litigation, not just when the notice of appeal is filed. With proper preparation, attention to detail, and forethought, one can ensure that the proper record on appeal is never in doubt.

When Homeowner’s good faith attempts to amicably work with the Bank in order to resolve the issue fails;

Home owners should wake up TODAY! before it’s too late by mustering enough courage for “Pro Se” Litigation (Self Representation – Do it Yourself) against the Lender – for Mortgage Fraud and other State and Federal law violations using foreclosure defense package found at https://fightforeclosure.net/foreclosure-defense-package/ “Pro Se” litigation will allow Homeowners to preserved their home equity, saves Attorneys fees by doing it “Pro Se” and pursuing a litigation for Mortgage Fraud, Unjust Enrichment, Quiet Title and Slander of Title; among other causes of action. This option allow the homeowner to stay in their home for 3-5 years for FREE without making a red cent in mortgage payment, until the “Pretender Lender” loses a fortune in litigation costs to high priced Attorneys which will force the “Pretender Lender” to early settlement in order to modify the loan; reducing principal and interest in order to arrive at a decent figure of the monthly amount the struggling homeowner could afford to pay.

If you find yourself in an unfortunate situation of losing or about to lose your home to wrongful fraudulent foreclosure, and need a complete package that will show you step-by-step litigation solutions helping you challenge these fraudsters and ultimately saving your home from foreclosure either through loan modification or “Pro Se” litigation visit: https://fightforeclosure.net/foreclosure-defense-package/