When you purchase a house, apartment or any other piece of property, you commit to a payment plan. If you fall behind and become unable to honor your financial obligations, you risk losing your property. A Florida foreclosure lawyer can help you renegotiate the terms of your loan, file for bankruptcy or take other steps to make sure you do not lose your property. Here are some things to keep in mind if you are contemplating finding private legal counsel.
How foreclosure works
Many people take out a mortgage to finance the purchase of a residence. The property you are buying acts as collateral for your loan. If you fall behind, your property is at risk of being confiscated. There are many reasons this can happen. Florida foreclosure lawyers can help if:
• You lose your job
• You have unexpected medical expenses
• The variable interest on your mortgage rises
Any unexpected loss of income can put you behind on your payment plan. If this happens, you should notify your creditor as soon as possible. Most businesses would prefer to renegotiate the terms of your loan or try to accommodate you rather than risk losing their investment. FL foreclosure lawyers can be helpful if you are dealing with a bank, person or anyone else who has lent you money. Document any exchanges you have with a creditor to establish that you have acted in good faith at all times.
Depending on the state of your finances, a FL foreclosure lawyer may advise you to file for bankruptcy. This is an extreme step that can help you get a fresh start and free you from harassment from creditors. However, Florida foreclosure lawyers should help you explore all your options before deciding to take this step.
The immediate benefit of filing for bankruptcy is that a court will order all creditors to cease attempting to collect. However, they may still ask the court to lift this “automatic stop.” A Florida foreclosure lawyer can help you avoid harassment from creditors and advise you of all your rights.
There are two kinds of bankruptcy most individuals can file for. A Florida foreclosure lawyer will advise you to file for either:
• Chapter 7 bankruptcy. This means you do not have sufficient assets to honor your payments and need to have your debts absolved.
• Chapter 13 bankruptcy. This means you can afford to pay part or all of your debt but not as your loans are currently structured.
Chapter 7 will liquidate some of your assets to pay off your debts. It does not require an appearance in court. You and your FL foreclosure lawyer will negotiate with your creditors with the help of a count-appointed trustee. Chapter 13, on the other hand, will require you to appear in bankruptcy court for a brief hearing.
In both cases, your Florida foreclosure lawyer will need as much documentation on your finances to present to the court and creditors. These records include:
• Bank statements
• Records of medical expenses
• Pay stubs
• Tax returns
Once this information is assembled, a FL foreclosure lawyer will have a better idea of what you can afford to pay. You will then need to start thinking about exemptions. Filing for bankruptcy does not mean that you will lose all of your assets. A Florida foreclosure lawyer can help you figure out what you can retain, such as:
• Cars, trucks and other vehicles
• Tools you use in your work
• Social Security income
Though filing for bankruptcy is a federal matter, every bankruptcy court has its own set of rules that apply. You can choose to follow federal or state guidelines. A Florida foreclosure lawyer can help you determine which set of laws will help you retain more of your assets.
All bankruptcies will appear on your credit record. Florida foreclosure lawyers or qualified financial advisers can help you prepare a plan to avoid having to file for bankruptcy again.
After you complete this process, do not sign up for any new credit cards.
Finding a Florida foreclosure lawyer
You do not need private legal counsel if you are facing foreclosure. However, it can often be helpful to consult with FL foreclosure lawyers to make sure you are taking all possible steps to protect your property.
As with any legal relationship you enter into, you should not be hasty in deciding who to work with. Though you will have to act fast, it is important to interview as many FL foreclosure lawyers as you need to before you find an attorney you trust. Ask friends and family for referrals to a specialist they have worked with. The Florida Bar or a local bar association may also be able to refer you to a FL foreclosure lawyer who can help you.
Prepare for your first meeting by assembling all your financial documents. FL foreclosure lawyers cannot advise you until they know the state of your finances. Be prepared to answer all questions honestly and forthrightly. It is important to establish an open and honest relationship with any FL foreclosure lawyers you are thinking of hiring at the outset.
To get the most out of your first meeting, prepare a list of questions to ask. A FL foreclosure lawyer should be able to provide an answer to queries like:
• What kind of experience do you have in foreclosure law?
• Can you refer me to a FL foreclosure lawyer with more experience if you are unable to advise me?
• What kind of exemptions can I claim?
• What bankruptcy court will I be appearing in?
• Can I expect to retain my property?
• Should I file for bankruptcy?
Make sure to obtain a detailed, written estimate from any Florida foreclosure lawyers of what the process will cost you. This will help you do not incur unexpected offenses you can ill afford at this time.