HAMP Alert! If you are a homeowner struggling to pay your mortgage and you want to be considered for a modification, you must submit an Initial Application Package on or before December 30, 2016.

When do the HAMP (Home Affordable Modification Program and MHA (Making Home Affordable) programs end?  You must submit the initial request before the end of 2016.

What happens if you default on a Trial Plan after December 30, 2016?  You may still qualify for a HAMP Modification if the servicer documents its decisions and the Modification Effective Date is on or before December 1, 2017.
What is the latest I can start the three-month trial period? The HAMP permanent Modification Deadline is December 1, 2017 and to meet this deadline, you should start a three-month trial period plan no later than September 1, 2017, but it would be better for you to start a trial period plan no later than August 1, 2017 to allow for servicer processing delays.
What if the servicer’s delays or failure to comply with the RESPA rules results in me losing HAMP eligibility because the modification cannot be finalized by December 1, 2017? Your damages include the difference between the HAMP modification payments you would have qualified for and any HAMP performance incentives that you would have received.
Need a modification or cancellation of a second mortgage?
• For a 2MP Modification, you must have applied for a HAMP modification before the end of this year and notice of the HAMP modification on the first mortgage by March 17, 2017.
• For a GSE Standard Modification, the modification must be finalized on or before December 1, 2016, and the servicer must offer you a 2MP trial plan, permanent modification, or lien extinguishment by December 30, 2016.
• For the UP (Unemployment Program), servicers are no longer required to evaluate borrowers for the program and may offer their own forbearance plan instead. If a borrower completes the UP forbearance servicers may evaluate them for HAMP on if the borrower also submitted an initial HAMP Package by December 31, 2016.
How about the HAFA (Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives) program? You must have applied no later than the servicer’s HAFA application deadline and the servicer must have sent you, by December 30, 2016, the short sale preapproval notice, offer for a deed in lieu of foreclosure, or approval of an executed contract for short sale.

Contact information:

Catherine Christiansen, Esq.*

Christiansen Law Offices**

17011 Beach Boulevard, Suite 900, Huntington Beach, CA, 29647

Tel: (714) 375-6651; Fax (562) 490-8572

email:  christiansenlaw@yahoo.com

website:  www.christiansenlawoffices.com

 

*Certified Specialist in Bankruptcy Law, Board of Specialization, State Bar of California.

 

** We are a federally designated Debt Relief Agency under the United States Bankruptcy Laws.  We assist people with finding solutions to their debt problems, including filing petitions for relief under the Bankruptcy Code.

 

 

Christiansen Law Offices PC is different from other law firms in Orange County.

Our job is to listen carefully to you so we understand the facts of your situation and your goals so we can help you find a solution.  At a recent consultation, a single mom’s wages were garnished and prevented her from paying bills and making necessary purchases for her family.  Was bankruptcy right for her?  In this case, the easier and less costly solution was to show the State Court she was exempt from the garnishment based on her low income.   Armed with this knowledge, the next decision for her was to either DIY or hire Christiansen Law Offices to prepare the State Court Papers to stop the garnishment.  She now knows more ways to defend from the garnishment and has the freedom to pick the defense/remedy that suits her situation.

Another person we recently met with was served with a State Court Summons and Complaint on ten year old credit card debt that the person believed was paid through a debt consolidation program.  During our conversation it was discovered there were seven more creditors that could and probably would sue.  Court Costs alone to defend are $300 – $400 per answer.  In the past, this person had suffered a financial hiccup and sought resolution through a debt consolidation company.  Having paid the debt consolidation company and a portion of the debts, now, this person must weigh the cost of defending in State Court versus the cost of filing Bankruptcy, which handles all of the debts for one filing fee; and the possible results of judgments and collections, versus the discharge of these debts through bankruptcy without taxable debt forgiveness income.  Once again, our office provided information so this person could choose which proactive course worked for him.

Are you still struggling with overwhelming student loan debt?  Did you ever file a bankruptcy?  If you qualify for a hardship discharge of the balance of your student loans now, you may reopen your old bankruptcy and file an adversary action asking the bankruptcy court to order your student loans discharged.  There are also many other solutions and programs that administratively discharge overwhelming student loan debt.  Maybe one would help you.

Some clients find relief in the structure of a bankruptcy and are finally able to budget monthly, and keep their car or home.  Don’t be afraid to find out if this relief may help you.  The relief the Bankruptcy Code offers you is brought to you by congress, because affording financial relief to you actually helps the economy.

Do you need to change the way you are running your personal finances?  One of the warning signs is when you are unable to pay your bills off in 60 days.

The mission of Christiansen Law Offices is to be a light in the darkness and more specifically to listen, analyze, and inform you about your legal issues and, if you choose to use the services of our office, to make the legal process as easy as possible.

Our nation was built on Biblical Standards through the perseverance of our Puritan Ancestors.  Check out Kirk Cameron’s documentary “Monumental” to understand just how these principals work in our Government, at all levels; from Taxpayer to President.

 

Why should somebody hire Christiansen Law Offices PC?

We offer non-judgmental conferences.  The last thing someone needs when they are asking for help is for someone to judge them.

My purpose as a bankruptcy attorney is to solve financially distressed persons unsolved problems innovatively and to make the lives of clients a whole lot easier in or out of court.

The unchanging essential tenants/core values of Christiansen Law Offices are to educate our clients about their issues and encourage good decisions.  To be a valued partner in our clients’ lives, to listen to clients tell of their financial problems they are facing with a heart full of His grace, His mercy and His law.  To explain remedies to bring understanding thereby enabling our clients to make good decisions.  We do our best to live by the gold standard – do good unto others as you would want good done to you, to empower productivity in all walks of life starting at stability with personal finances to support solid family and business life and to continuously improve to win victory without judging or shaming our clients.

Once retained our office is committed to finding the best remedy for our clients.  Each case comes with an individual set of facts and circumstances.  It may be in the clients’ best interest to seek a remedy other than bankruptcy and we are not afraid to let the client know this.

 

Some people believe that people who filed for Bankruptcy have actually caused the financial depression that we are in right now. Is that true?

.Bankruptcy is actually good for the economy.  Without strong bankruptcy laws, a person overloaded with debt won’t own any real estate or an automobile, since it can be attached and sold; have a bank account because it can be attached; and/or avoid working for a normal employer because wages are garnished.

Instead, they work for cash off book, don’t pay taxes, don’t own stuff, don’t buy much stuff and don’t contribute to the economy.  Unless and until money comes from somewhere to pay the debt in full, with interest, a person spirals into eternal debt.

Bankruptcy gives a consumer a way to have their debts discharged and encourages borrowing, spending, taxpaying and saving for retirement.

Bankruptcy gives a business the means for taking on more risk by investing in research and development and expanding.

Bankruptcy gives the creditors an equitable means for collecting to the fullest extent possible on debts and repossessing collateral property.

 

 

I have heard that many people say that Bankruptcy represents a personal, even a moral failure. That only bad people file for Bankruptcy. Have you heard that before?

I heard that argument from Creditors supporting the changes in the Bankruptcy Laws.

The truth is that Bankruptcy Relief has its roots in the Bible.  The Old Testament has many examples of compassionate treatment of the poor and preservation of the family unit.  These goals were superior to the material concerns of repayment of debt.   Deuteronomy 15:7-10 provides: “If there is a poor man among your brothers…do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. Rather be open handed and freely lend him whatever he needs. Be careful not to harbor this wicked thought: ‘The seventh year, the year for canceling debts, is near,’ so that you show ill toward your needy brother and give him nothing. He may then appeal to the LORD against you, and you will be found guilty of sin. Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hands to.”  Good advice for the economic hard times our Nation is facing today.

It has been my experience that in twenty years of representing consumers and small businesses every client who filed bankruptcy was a ‘honest but unfortunate debtor.’  I am sure there are those who ‘work the system’ but they are few and most ethical, qualified bankruptcy attorneys can figure out who these people are to avoid representing them.  Bankruptcy attorneys are also officers of the court and required to either disclose their clients’ lies or withdraw from the case.

Are you telling me filing for Bankruptcy can actually stop the IRS in its tracks?

Bankruptcy stops the IRS collection actions in its tracks.  It does not stop the IRS from assessing the amount of tax debt due.

If the IRS filed a lien with the County Recorder in the County you live in then the lien attaches to all your property, personal and real.

There are several ways to handle tax liens, old income tax debt, and trust fund business tax debt through bankruptcy.  Motivational speakers often ask the question ‘How do you eat an elephant?’  The answer is one bite at a time.  Tax debt can seem like an elephant is sitting on top and crushing you.  Tax relief through bankruptcy is complicated.  If the petition is filed one day too soon, a whole year of taxes can be forever non-discharged.  Our office offers a Tax Dischargeability Analysis.  If you have tax debts it is wise to request a Tax Dischargeability Analysis before your file bankruptcy.

If you choose to deal with tax debt outside of bankruptcy the burden of proof is on you to prove you do not owe the debt in the IRS, if you choose to deal with tax debt through your bankruptcy the burden of proof is on the IRS to prove you owe the debt.

So can you stop the IRS in its tracks?  Yes, with competent counsel and correct planning.

 

 

I’ve heard if you owe taxes to the IRS, you can’t discharge them in Bankruptcy. Is that true?

Unsecured income taxes due for past years that returns were filed on may be eligible for discharge.  Our firm has handled these types of matters for many years and many of our clients have been relieved from tax debt that they never would have paid in their lifetime.  Congress understood that tax debt can spiral out of reach of payoff and provided statutory relief for these types of debt.

Not all taxes are discharged in bankruptcy and the timing rules are complicated.  If you owe taxes it is in your best interest to consult with an attorney who handles tax/bankruptcy matters.

If you have both dischargeable and non dischargeable income taxes Chapter 13 offers a payment arrangement that prevents interest and penalties while you are in the bankruptcy.  You will know exactly how much it will cost to pay off your taxes and that when you complete your plan payments.

We advise our clients to make sure they don’t owe and don’t receive a refund during their Chapter 13.  It may mean adjusting their withholding.  In a Chapter 13 all refunds are turned over to the Chapter 13 Trustee, who then pays the unsecured creditors a larger percentage.  Tax refund money is paid to unsecured creditors on the theory that a tax refund is the same as disposable income; had the correct amount been withheld there would be more take home pay instead of a tax refund.  More take home pay increases the amount of monthly disposable income.  The plan payment is based on monthly disposable income.  Higher monthly disposable income increases the percentage the unsecured creditors receive.  Withholding the correct amount also prevents new tax debt.  The goal for our clients is to, on discharge, be free from crushing IRS debt.  .

If you do not handle your tax debt then when you retire the IRS will be able to garnish your social security and retirement income.

Can credit card companies or banks take away your right to file for Bankruptcy?

Creditors cannot prevent you from filing bankruptcy.  Banks cannot prevent you from filing bankruptcy.  Contracts that contain clauses that say the parties are prevented from filing bankruptcy are not valid.

Creditors can dispute that their debt can be discharged in your bankruptcy.  The Creditor must be proactive and file a ‘complaint’ within 60 days of the date of your original creditors meeting, government entities have longer.  This type of dispute does not affect any other debts in your case.  Usually creditors claim you acted fraudulently when you obtained credit or services.  The creditor must file the complaint timely or lose the right to file it.  The bankruptcy rules are there so the “honest but unfortunate debtor” gains relief from their debt.  There is no protection for a debtor who acted fraudulently.

Creditors and the U.S. Trustee can object to the discharge of all of your debts based on fraud committed by you in connection with your chapter 7 bankruptcy.  For instance if your provided false information on your bankruptcy petition or schedules, transferred the title or property to another person to avoid including it in your petition, or you lie to the bankruptcy trustee or judge during hearings, you are committing fraud.

Creditors, the Chapter 13 Trustee or the U.S. Trustee may also object to the discharge of all of your debts if you fail to keep and produce adequate financial records, do not disclose, hide, or destroy assets or you fail to obey a lawful order of the bankruptcy court, for instance, you fail to file all the required documents in your case.

A creditor has the right to demand repayment if you purchased a large ticket item, like a refrigerator, or charged a vacation on a credit card, within three months of filing your petition. A creditor’s claim for payment can come as a surprise.  To prevent this type of surprise one of our common intake questions is to ask our clients if they have made any large purchases or taken recent vacations so we can explain the consequences before the bankruptcy is filed.

In the twenty years of practice only a few clients have faced creditor opposition.  We do our best to ferret out information necessary to determine the possibility of opposition.  If a client does face opposition, our office will fight for them.

Fighting creditors means an additional separate agreement and payment for services.  As mentioned previously, we do our best to ferret out information that may lead to these types of situations to avoid surprises and make the lives of clients a whole lot easier in or out of court.

 

People who are behind on their payments often get several calls a day from the same company. Can these creditors continue to call you after you file for Bankruptcy protection?

We can stop creditor’s calls once we are retained and before the bankruptcy is filed.  We will notify creditors that our office is representing you and all further communications are to go through our office.

The day the bankruptcy petition is filed, all creditors who have notice of the filing, are stopped from collection, except child support creditors.  Creditors, who have notice of the bankruptcy and who call you after the bankruptcy is filed are usually calling to collect on their debt, not to just shoot the breeze or be sociable.  Collection activity after filing bankruptcy by creditors who were listed on the bankruptcy petition is prohibited and you have swords to shield yourself from this type of activity.  Please notice that the creditor must have notice.

We, at Christiansen Law Offices PC, do our best to insure all the creditors are listed; our clients receive a copy of the credit report and instructions to send us information on all creditors who are not listed on their credit report; our clients receive a draft of their petition for review before the in-office appoint to sign their petition where we go over each page of the petition with them for the last review of information and to make sure they understand what they are signing.

The debtor must do his or her best to list every creditor.  The address for the creditor must be an address that the creditor will receive notice at.  If the debtor discovers an unlisted creditor after filing his or her petition, then the debtor is required to amend their petition to include the creditors’ information so the creditor receives notice of the bankruptcy and the discharge.

No matter how thorough we and the clients are, sometimes creditors are omitted when the petition is filed.   The Bankruptcy Code allows for amending the petition.  The cost is a small filing fee ($30) and a small attorney fee

Chapter 13 cases go on for 3 to 5 years and often events occur where you need to borrow additional money due to an emergency.  We notify the court for you of these new creditors so the new  creditors claim are included in your discharge.

Creditors are not prevented by law from calling until the bankruptcy case starts, so who do you want them to call, us or you?  .  Our clients have the option of telling their creditors that our office represents them and all further communications are directed to our office.  The creditors must comply with this request or face the consequences of a lawsuit, where if successfully, you will collect statutory damages and attorney fees.  We do this to make your life a whole lot easier in or out of court.