Articles Posted in Economy

Published on:

bankruptcy-court-large

This post was prepared by yours truly, with contributions from Phil Bradford, a financial web content writer. Phil graduated from New York University School of Law and recently joined Herald University as a reporter. He has also written for websites such as debtfreeguys.com and disabilitycanhappen.org

An now, on with the post…

Those who’ve exhausted their financial options or are unable to meet obligations due to illness, divorce, job-loss, or other life-altering events, may consider filing Bankruptcy to get their life back on track.  Here is a quick-guide to help you navigate the process with the help of a good Bankruptcy Lawyer:

Basic Types of Bankruptcy

The most basic distinction when thinking about Bankruptcy is the one between a liquidation (Chapter 7) and a reorganization (Chapter 13 for most people). Whether you need to file a Chapter 7 or 13 case will depend on several factors, including:

  • Total “household” income
  • The value of your property
  • What you stand to lose
  • What you intend to keep

That said, below you will find a few of the most important points when considering if Bankruptcy is right for you.
Continue reading

Published on:

Seal_of_the_Supreme_Court_of_Illinois

Fin. Freedom Acquisition, LLC v. Standard Bank & Trust Co.

Illinois Supreme Court, 2015 IL 117950 Opinion Date: September 24, 2015

In this case arising from a 2009 “reverse equity” mortgage, the issue was whether a Bank acting as Trustee of a trust holding property was entitled to the same relief under the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) 15 U.S.C. 1601 as the actual consumer borrowers. Want to guess what happened?

Facts

OneWest sued Standard, as Trustee, to foreclose a reverse equity adjustable-rate mortgage: the typical killer loan that Banks promoted to borrowers who later found themselves buried in unsustainable debt. In a stroke of ironic genius, Standard filed a Counterclaim in the foreclosure action based on violations of TILA by OneWest.

Procedural History

The Circuit Court dismissed Standard’s Counterclaim; the decision was affirmed by the Appellate Court because Standard was deemed not to an “obligor” under TILA entitled to rescind the transaction. To this point, Illinois Courts were confirming the common-sense notion that a pro-consumer law should not be used to benefit yet another Bank.

Continue reading

Published on:

ada25-logo

This guest-post, a synopsis of “Let’s Talk About Arbitration” by Attorney William Goren from his blog, Understanding the ADA.  The original post discusses issues pertaining to arbitration of claims arising under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The author assumes that readers know the difference between arbitration and mediation. Covered points include these:

  • Can an ADA claim be subject arbitration?
  • Are there situations in which an arbitration agreement is deemed unconscionable?
  • Can an arbitration agreement assert that an award cannot be challenged for any reason?

The post also discusses:

  1. Whether an arbitration agreement covers ADA matters will depend upon how it is phrased, but if phrased broadly enough, an arbitration agreement can cover ADA matters.
  2. An arbitration agreement can be held unconscionable, but proving that an arbitration agreement is unconscionable is not an easy task.
  3. An arbitration agreement that prevents any challenges whatsoever to the award may well be declared against public policy (It was in Georgia, and Georgia very closely follows the Federal Arbitration Act).
  4. The Second Circuit goes with the stay, but the U.S. Court of Appeals are split on this. Ultimately, it will all come down to what “shall,” means.
  5. In a comment the author also notes a recent California Supreme Court case concluding that the Federal Arbitration Act preempts state requirements as to how notification is given that an agreement is subject arbitration (font size for example).

Continue reading

Published on:

Dual Tracking is the industry name for the practice of letting a foreclosure case tick on even while the homeowner seeks to modify their mortgage loan. The idea is simple: the Bank will take whichever solution comes through first – a modification or a foreclosure. The problem is that the Bank holds all the cards: the Bank’s Loss Mitigation Department decides how long it takes to review and approve an application to modify your loan, while the Foreclosure process in Court has been greatly simplified and streamlined for the benefit of the Banks. Illinois mortgage foreclosure laws, even Illinois Supreme Court Rules, now permit foreclosing banks to roll over homeowners and get to a judgment.

Continue reading

Published on:

If you live in Illinois you know that the Economy has been sputtering: struggling valiantly but with little to show for it. Case in point: Is your home still underwater? For most people the answer is still yes – even as markets around the country rebound. So today we address a deceptively simple question: What is a mortgage and how does it work? Why don’t mortgages relate to the value of our homes? Here are a few things to consider: a mortgage is a loan secured by real estate. While the term “mortgage” is used colloquially to refer to both the loan and the security, there are actually 2 separate legal documents at work here: a Note and a security instrument – the Mortgage lien.

Note: When money is borrowed to purchase real estate, some States title the underlying property in the name of the Lender and permit that interest to hypothetically transfer over time to the Borrower. The arrangement is a bit like lay-a-way. These States are using the “Title Theory.” But Illinois, like many other States, places the underling property in the name of the homeowner and gives the Lender a lien on the owner’s interest – these States are using the “Lien Theory.”

Continue reading

Published on:

Today’s post features a pair of cases in which a foreclosure defense Attorney seems to have gone too far. Foreclosure defense has become a veritable cottage industry over the past decade and it is common for Clients to expect their lawyer to do more than fight. They want to delay “by any means necessary.” But the Courts still regard the law as a genteel profession. This means that what Clients see as run of the mill zealous lawyering comes off to the Judge as unprofessional or worse. This pair of cases highlights that point.

Case #1: In re Wendy A. Nora

Facts

Published on:

We represent many consumers in Bankruptcy, and getting our Clients back on their feet afterwards is a big part of what we do. Often, cases are driven by upside-down home loans or even reasonable loans in which payments have become too high because the homeowner lost their job or had to take a lower paying job as a result of the Great Recession. One option for those who’ve gone through Bankruptcy and are looking to borrow again is the FHA Loan.

Before the housing bubble burst in 2008 FHA loans were considered the choice for buyers with little credit or bad credit; or an option for those with low incomes. But since everyone’s home value began falling – often taking their credit standing with it – FHA mortgages have become more widely appealing, especially when compared to conventional loans that require private mortgage insurance (“PMI”). PMI is the mortgage lender’s way of ensuring it gets paid following default. It is insurance for which the borrower pays the premium, adding to the cost of the loan.

For those considering an FHA Loan, keep these points in mind:

Published on:

As a Bankruptcy lawyer I can’t count how many times people have asked why Courts won’t reduce their mortgage debt to match the deflated value of their home, or why they should pay anything on that second mortgage, line of credit, or HELOC, when they’re underwater. I even discussed these questions and the state of the law concerning lien strips in this post. Now, the very cases referred to in that post have made it to the U.S. Supreme Court and the stage is set for the battle of the lien strip cases.

Of course this all started with the Supreme Court’s 1992 Opinion in Dewsnup v. Timm that the Bankruptcy Code does not permit the cramdown of a partially secured mortgage. Some Courts took this to mean that lien-strips are a no-no. Others interpreted it to mean that lien-strips were permissible under the right circumstances. So in some parts of the country a completely unsecured second mortgage can be stripped, but only in a Chapter 13 reorganization; while in other parts it can be stripped in a Chapter 7 liquidation, too.

So, with Courts in disagreement, what’s a home-owner to do? Remember, in Dewsnup the Court ruled the Bankruptcy Code doesn’t permit mortgages to be written down to the value of the home – even though that practice, known as the cram down,  is acceptable as to vehicles. Ironically, one of the Court’s primary concerns in Dewsnup was to prevent windfall gains to home-owners who strip away their loans, then enjoy the profits as their homes rise in value.

Published on:

The Announcement

Recently Steven Rhodes, the Judge tasked with managing the largest municipal Bankruptcy in American history, cleared Detroit to emerge from reorganization and put to bed a series of hard-fought battles between creditors, citizens, employees, and pension recipients. Before approving the move though, Judge Rhodes issued a heart-felt plea to all involved: “move past your anger” and “fix the Motor City. What happened in Detroit must never happen again.” He also observed that “Detroit’s inability to provide adequate municipal services… is inhumane and intolerable, and must be fixed.”

Politicians and civic leaders, including Michigan’s Republican Governor Rick Snyder, hailed Friday’s decision as a milestone and a “fresh start” for the Motor City. Indeed, it was Snyder who originally agreed with State-appointed Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr to take the City into Chapter 9: a last-resort he had promoted during his re-election campaign.