Deed in Lieu: Is it Right for You?

questionPhoto courtesy of Stefan Baudy

If you are like many millions of Americans and are currently struggling to pay your mortgage bill each month, you are probably weighing the pros and cons of all of your options. Hopefully, you have already met with a reputable financial advisor or a credit repair attorney. If you have gotten the advice of one of the aforementioned professionals and, with their help, have determined that you simply just cannot afford to stay in your home, you may be considering putting your home up for a short sale, or perhap you are looking into doing a deed in lieu of foreclosure (DIL).

Instead of marring your incredibly important credit score with a foreclosure or bankruptcy, going through with a short sale or a deed in lieu of foreclosure are two other options that most people feel look better on your credit report. A short sale requires that you go through all of the steps necessary in selling a home, which can be costly and time consuming. On the other hand, the processing of a deed in lieu of foreclosure may simply result in you signing the title over to the lender and allowing the lender to sell the home for you.

In what has now become a long and drawn out housing crisis (even with the small recent upturn) more and more distressed homeowners are turning to the age old method of what is often simply referred to as ‘deed in lieu.’ Popular in the 1920s and 1930s, a ‘deed in lieu’ allows homeowners to more or less hand over the property to the lender and find more affordable housing without an extremely negative deficiency judgment weighing on them and marring their credit scores indeterminedly .

Most banks and other mortgage lenders report preferring a short sale over a deed in lieu, because even though lenders will end up taking less than what is owed on the house, everything is taken care of and they don’t have to worry about putting the home up for sale, which will end up costing them more time and money. However, a homeowner who is really floundering under water with a property with no liens is a good candidate for a deed in lieu of foreclosure.

The average lender is hesitant to take on a property that has liens against it, such as a second or third mortgage, because they then become responsible for said liens.  Lenders will, however, entertain a deed in lieu of foreclosure for distressed homeowners who have put their home on the market with a sale price that would cover the entire amount they owe on the home.  If this method has proved unsuccessful, lenders look for homeowners who have attempted a short sale next. This process of events shows the lender that the debtor has done his due diligence in attempting to sell the property, and at this point, the lender may entertain a deed in lieu.

If you are interested in learning more about what is involved in filing for a deed in lieu of foreclosure, Veitengruber Law is here to help educate you on the process.  We’ll make sure that your best interests are met. Call our office today and ask us for our first available appointment so that we can get you on the way to affordable housing as soon as possible.

Improve Your Finances by Taking a Step-by-Step Approach

booksPhoto courtesy of Bravo_Zulu_

As you are making your way along the path to financial freedom in 2013, Veitengruber Law has solutions to any complicated financial situation that you may be dealing with whether you are having trouble paying your mortgage, are dealing with steep credit card debt, or have a plethora of overdue utility bills. We can also help you collect on a debt that is owed to you or your business.

On the other hand, if your financial situation is relatively stable, in all probability you still have financial goals that you would like to meet. The advice we give our clients who are in a similar position is to make small changes to your everyday routine that can really make a significant difference by the end of the year. Put as many of the following tasks into action as possible, and be persistent about them. You won’t see a big difference right away, but if you persevere, a successful financial outlook is definitely on your horizon.

  1. Eliminate. Take a good inventory of everything that is currently cluttering up your home, garage and attic. Have a yard sale to make some profits from the things you simply no longer have a use for, or start up a small eBay side business.
  2. Create your own gifts. You can learn how to make all kinds of interesting consumable gifts like candles, bread, soap, etc. You’ll save money and since they are consumable, they won’t end up re-gifted or cluttering up someone’s home.
  3. Use coupons! Shop only one time per week to eliminate impulse buys and always check store sales to coordinate them with weekly coupons. Always take a list with you to the grocery store.
  4. Cut your own hair. This is actually a lot easier than it sounds. There are a lot of helpful YouTube videos on this topic, and you can even learn how to cut all of your family members’ hair for additional savings!
  5. Shop vintage. If you haven’t checked out vintage shops lately, put it on your priority list. Not only will shopping vintage save you a staggering amount of money, but vintage wear is actually in style right now.
  6. Start packing. Pack your lunch at least one time per week if you work outside of the home. Packing even more than once is ideal.
  7. Start a ‘no spending week’ experiment. This is a great way to put a little bit more money in your savings account. Pick one week every few months and don’t spend any money that week at all. This is aside from the cost of gas to get to and from work and any daycare expenses. Use up all of the food in your pantry and refrigerator. Entertain yourselves with books and movies you already own. Visit the library to stock up on books if you need more entertainment. You can intensify this experiment by even cutting out the cost of gas by biking to work or carpooling.
  8. Shop around for deals on car and home insurance.
  9. Get familiar with your library. Instead of renting a movie or stopping by Redbox on a Friday night, pick up a few movies from the library on your way home from work. Not only do they have a huge selection of awesome books, but you would be surprised at the movie selection available at most libraries these days.
  10. Stop and think. Never make an expensive purchase (unless it is absolutely necessary for your survival) without thinking about it for at least a month. Usually what happens is you will have forgotten about the unnecessary purchase by the end of the thinking period.

Look for more helpful money saving ideas right here at the Veitengruber Law blog next week. Please feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments!

How to Catch up on Late Bills

Photo courtesy of Gliko

If you’re starting out 2013 behind on your bills, it’s understandable that you want to get on the right path quickly to make sure that you don’t end up in a downward financial spiral. Luckily, we have solutions to virtually any complicated financial situation, and even if you feel that there is no way out, there are things that you can do to recover your financial stability.

Taking a look at your monthly budget, let’s assume that you are able to pay your rent or mortgage payment. If you are struggling to even pay for your housing, your problem needs attention quickly and your mortgage can be refinanced to help you manage the payments each month. Your current living situation may need to be analyzed, and foreclosure may be an option for you.

However, since most people end up forgoing their other bills in order to pay their mortgage payment, that will be the problem that we are addressing today.

Dealing with late fees on top of bills that you already cannot afford can end up increasing your monthly bills by hundreds of dollars, digging your debt hole deeper and deeper. This alone is reason enough to get caught up on your past due amounts, especially if you are significantly behind.

The best way to start digging yourself out of your situation is to start with one bill at a time and pay your past due amount plus some. In other words, if you are $125 past due on your gas bill, try making a payment of $150 in order to start making a dent in the overdue amount you owe.

Focus on getting just one overdue bill paid off at a time and then moving on to another bill. Start with the bill you owe the least amount of money on so that getting it paid off is attainable. When you have been able to bring the first bill current, you can then move on to bringing another bill current using the same technique.

The most important thing to come to terms with is that you will be making sacrifices in order to bring this plan to fruition. Accept the fact that you will not be able to spend money on any luxuries for the next six months or so. It may seem like torture, but remember that it is important to get your bills brought current so that you don’t have financial worries weighing you down. The relief you will feel when everything is paid will be worth it, and being financially responsible will give you a sense of accomplishment.

If you find that this plan is unmanageable for you, and you are simply unable to break even after several months of attempts, your next step is to turn to Veitengruber Law for help. We can restructure your debts so that they are manageable and you can once again live within your means.

We will gladly work with you to streamline your outstanding bills and credit card debts, and we will negotiate lower interest rates that you may be paying on any loans. Reaching out to utility companies is something that we do all the time. We’ll talk with them for you and negotiate affordable payment plans that work for your income. Lastly, we’ll sit down with you to help you establish a reasonable spending budget so that you don’t have this problem again in the future.

George Veitengruber, Esq. will meet with you to discuss your financial goals this year and will create a customized credit card and utility bill repair plan for you. It’s never too late, so don’t give up! If you’ve lost all hope and think that hiring an attorney is completely out of your budget, give us a call. We guarantee that you will not suffer from sticker shock.

Where There’s a Will, There’s Veitengruber Law

funeralPhoto courtesy of Elvert Barnes

As important as it is to love and cherish your friends and family members during your lifetime, it is also essential that you consider how their lives will be impacted if and when you happen to pass away before they do.

Estate planning is a fancy way of saying that you are preparing for the division of your assets or property at the time of your death. Estate planning involves creating several documents in order to transfer your assets seamlessly to your heirs upon your death.  These documents will also make arrangements for guardianship of your children (if applicable) and someone to make decisions for you should you become disabled:

  1. Last Will and Testament  – A Last Will and Testament (otherwise known simply as a will), is the document that is used to transfer your real property and assets to your beneficiaries. This document will also name guardians for any of your unemancipated minor children. A Last Will and Testament becomes effective only after your death and after it has been probated by your state’s court system. Probate courts oversee the transfer of your estate in order to ensure that your will is authentic. Once it is shown to be genuine, the probate system ensures that everything will be distributed according to your state’s rules.
  2. A Trust is a document that is created and becomes effective while you are still living. A revocable trust means that you will be able to make changes to the trust throughout your lifetime, including terminating it completely. An irrevocable trust is very difficult to make changes to, however it does provide some tax benefits. A trust can be a good alternative to a Last Will and Testament because your friends and loved ones won’t have to deal with probate, which will save them money and time.
  3. Living Wills (a/k/a Advance Health Care Directives) give specific directions to those who might take life-sustaining measures if you happen to contract a fatal illness. A living will communicates your wishes, but won’t allow someone else to speak on your behalf.
  4. Durable Power Of Attorney – In this document, you will name the person who will be handling all of the arrangements surrounding your financial affairs. The person who is named as your Durable Power of Attorney will also manage the distribution of your assets after the time of your death.
  5. Health Care Power Of Attorney (a/k/a Health Care Proxy) – In the unfortunate event that you become diagnosed with a terminal illness or sustain a serious, life-threatening injury, there may be decisions regarding your medical care that simply weren’t addressed in your Living Will. This document’s purpose is to name the person who will make those decisions for you if you become unable to make those decisions for yourself. Because this person may ultimately end up making some momentous decisions at a time when you can’t – choosing someone with a clear understanding of your health care wishes is imperative.

While creating these documents is of the utmost importance for everyone, the process itself is not difficult.  Although it can be uncomfortable to ponder one’s own demise, you will feel relief when your estate planning process is complete.  Knowing that your loved ones will be taken care of and that there will be no unnecessary arguments over your wishes is something that we are proud to offer you. Simply call Veitengruber Law today to set up your free Estate Planning consultation appointment.

Securing Your Financial Stability in 2013

money ideaPhoto courtesy of Serge Melki

Here at Veitengruber Law, we understand that not everyone makes New Year’s resolutions. It’s true that resolutions made on a whim often go ignored, making the entire concept of New Year’s resolutions seem obsolete and trite. However, because of the incredible importance of your credit score, making a promise to yourself to improve your financial stability this year is something that you can “resolve” to do and feel good about when you see the results in several months’ time.

Most people have some understanding of just how many things your credit score affects.  Mortgage lenders, insurance agents, auto dealerships, credit card companies, landlords, utility companies, cell phone companies, and now even many employers are allowed to (and do) check your credit score and report in order to determine if they would like to enter into dealings with you in some way. Your credit report tells people a lot about your reliability financially and alerts them to problems that you have had repaying debts.

If your credit report has negative things to say about you, it’s high time you did something about it.

Copious numbers of people have previously hesitated to take steps to to improve their credit rating due to that nasty four letter F-word. It is easy to let Fear of the unknown prevent you from moving forward. Perhaps you don’t even know what your credit report has to say, and you are afraid of finding out, much like some people are afraid of going to the doctor for fear of any bad news he may share with them.

You can now put at least your credit report fears to rest (We can’t help you with fear of the doctor, though). Even if your financial situation is dire, there is nowhere for you to go but up, and the good news is that our attorneys have experience getting even the worst credit scores turned around and moving in the right direction in six months to a year’s time.  We can get you on your way to a credit score that shows all lenders and employers that you are responsible and that you are a person that they would like to be involved with.

Our extensive experience negotiating with mortgage lenders guarantees that we will be able to help you modify any existing home loans that you are having difficulty repaying.  We will also help you negotiate terms with any other creditors so that all loan terms are a better fit for your income.  Even if you have racked up an astronomical credit card bill, we can work out a streamlined plan with the credit card lender(s) so that you will be able to to pay your bill(s) and so that the lender will be satisfied as well.  This means they will no longer be reporting you to a collections agency, and your credit score will respond accordingly. We will negotiate with utility companies, and any other creditor to whom you are currently indebted.

It is possible that you even have errors in your credit report that you are not aware of which can be causing your credit score to dip even lower. There are, in fact, studies that show that the credit reporting system is flawed and that up to 80% of credit reports have mistakes in them. It is also highly likely that your credit report has financial information that is out of date or irrelevant at this point.  This can be giving creditors and potential employers the wrong idea about who you are as a borrower, employee and individual. Mistakes on your credit report can also be the reason that you are paying higher than average interest rates, which, if addressed and fixed, can end up saving you money every month on loans that you currently hold.  This will cause your credit score to rise even more quickly, because payments will be easier for you to make, and your loan balances will begin to to drop.

Regardless of the reason(s) for your financial difficulties in the past, it is fabulous news that you are now looking to the future and are determined to secure your financial stability in 2013 and beyond. It is even more encouraging that you have reached out to find a credit repair attorney with experience under his belt and a “get it done” attitude.   Our firm has done it many times before, and we look forward to bringing your credit score up from the depths of financial hell by formulating a plan that will set you on a course to financial freedom.