Keep Reading and You'll Discover…
- 21 Costly Mistakes to Avoid When Thinking About Filing for Bankruptcy in Illinois
- 7 Shocking (and Costly!) Facts About Consumer Credit Counseling
- 11 Tragic Misconceptions About Bankruptcy, and
- 8 Eye-Opening Secrets That Reduce the Pain of Bankruptcy
The National Bankruptcy Forum is a blog devoted exclusively to bankruptcy and related issues. It features contributing attorneys from across the country, including myself.
Chicago, Illinois: I proudly represent business owners, executives and consumers in the Illinois cities of Chicago, Palatine, Evanston, Park Ridge, Elmwood Park, Oak Park, Hoffman Estates, Schaumburg, Hanover, Arlington Heights, Des Plaines, Northbrook and Glenview. With eighteen offices serving Chicago and communities throughout Illinois, Fonfrias Law Group is Chicago's experienced financial rescue and bankruptcy legal team, offering all forms of bankruptcy legal services, debt consolidation, bad credit repair, foreclosure defense, credit card debt management, loan and mortgage refinancing advice. We can help with all forms of homeowner and consumer financial rescue in emergency situations. While we are well known as The Chicago Money Lawyer; we are also known as The Illinois Money Lawyer, ready to assist and advise those with serious money issues in Illinois Our Chicago law firm offers legal services for business, including trademark law. We also provide Illinois family law services..
Chicago bankruptcy lawyer Richard Fonfrias is a Lead Counsel Rated Attorney. The Lead Counsel Rating provides consumers with an unbiased evaluation tool to use when selecting legal representation. Lawyers are accessed on their professional experience, peer recommendations, and unblemished record as a lawyer. As a Lead Counsel Rated Attorney, Rich Fonfrias meets the highest standards of expertise and professionalism. Rick is an Illinois B.K. lawyer who has earned your trust and confidence.
Over the years, Chicago bankruptcy attorney Rich Fonfrias has assisted thousands of people in financial distress, through his Illinois law practice, his free financial help seminars, radio talk show appearances, and his book Rich's Common Sense Guide to Erasing Debt & Building Wealth in Tough Times: Insider Secrets & Strategies to Free You From Debt Now and Forever -- GUARANTEED! Rich wrote his book, drawing from his vast experience as a bankruptcy lawyer to help educate and inform the public. He explains in plain language the ins and outs of bankruptcy, foreclosure, home equity loans, credit scores, and offers practical alternatives to bankruptcy and realistic advice so that anyone reading this useful guide can gain a better understanding of the options that are open to them. Available to download in an e-book format, Rich's Common Sense Guide to Erasing Debt & Building Wealth in Tough Times offers 14 smart steps to solve common money problems that can be put into practice right away, to get a fresh start and build a secure future.
The Fonfrias Law Group, LLC is an accredited BBB Chicago law practice that serves Chicago and the surrounding area focusing on bankruptcy and financial rescue. At its head, Richard Fonfrias is a BBB accredited bankruptcy attorney and expert in financial legal services, including foreclosure defense, bankruptcy alternatives, credit card defense, loan and line of credit modification, debt elimination, debt reduction, car repossession prevention, removing credit report mistakes, filing late tax returns, settling back taxes, removing state liens and levies, building new credit, preventing home seizure, preventing business seizure, and more.
A respected Chicago attorney, Rich Fonfrias has helped clients with serious financial problems of many years. Rich graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of New York in 1990, and in 1996 he earned his Doctor of Jurisprudence Degree (J.P. Degree) and a position on the Dean's List from Thomas M. Cooley Law Scholl in Lansing, Michigan. A member of the Illinois State Bar Association and the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, Rich has been admitted to practice law before all Illinois State Courts, the Illinois Supreme Court, and the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
You can feel confident hiring Rich Fonfrias to help solve your money problems. An experienced Chicago bankruptcy lawyer, Rich has helped thousands of people to get out of debt and take back financial control. Richard Fonfrias has received a "Very Good" rating from Avvo, a website dedicated to helping consumers find the right lawyer in their geographic area. The Avvo website also offers a wealth of legal resources and provides answers to questions submitted online. It rates lawyers and provides information including experience, background, disciplinary history (if applicable) and reviews from actual clients. A lawyer's rating is determined by factors such as experience, board certification, and professional achievements and industry recognition.
:The Chicago law practice of Richard Fonfrias deals exclusively with individuals and businesses in serious financial trouble. Rich provides legal services to businesses and individuals, helping both people in financial distress and businesses facing insolvency. For businesses in financial distress, Rich offers the following legal services: Chapter 7 bankruptcy or liquidation, Chapter 11 bankruptcy or reorganization, alternatives to bankruptcy in Illinois, creditor lawsuit defense, credit card defense, foreclosure defense, bank account seizure prevention, prevent equipment repossession, restructuring and debt settlement, debt elimination, negotiations with creditors, loan, mortgage and line of credit modifications, review and modify lease and loan contracts.
There are 6 types of bankruptcy in our legal system. The type of bankruptcy that you file depends on a number of factors. Bankruptcy laws are federal laws. Your bankruptcy will take place in Bankruptcy Court, which is a division of the U.S. Federal District Court. In order to decide which bankruptcy is right for you, it is important to have an understanding of bankruptcy law and the differences between the different types of bankruptcy. Most consumers usually file either Chapter 7 Bankruptcy or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. In Chapter 7 Bankruptcy (liquidation), the bankruptcy court requires that you complete a large amount of paper work, listing all of your assets and all of your debts or liabilities. You must also indicate any exempt property which by law you may keep. With Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, as well as completing a mountain of paperwork, you are required to negotiate with your creditors, work with the Chapter 13 Trustee and draw up an approved plan to repay your creditors.
Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code provides for liquidation, meaning the sale of a debtor's nonexempt property and the distribution of the proceeds to creditors. In order to be eligible for Chapter 7, the debtor must satisfy a means test. The court will evaluate the debtor's income and expenses to determine if the debtor may proceed under Chapter 7. Chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Code provides for the adjustment or reorganization of an individual's debts with regular income, sometimes referred to as a wage-earner plan. Chapter 13 allows a debtor to keep property and use his or her disposable income to pay debts over time, usually three to five years. Navigating your way through Chapter 7 Bankruptcy or Chapter 11 Bankruptcy can be a daunting experience for those who decide to go it alone, without the help of an experienced bankruptcy attorney. Bankruptcy is a complex process, with many potential pitfalls for those not thoroughly experienced in bankruptcy law. If you are unfamiliar with bankruptcy law, bankruptcy court or the American legal system in general and are considering filing for bankruptcy without the legal advice of a bankruptcy specialist, you are taking a huge risk. Declaring bankruptcy can be life-changing event. With your entire financial future hanging in the balance, seeking professional help in bankruptcy just make sense.
Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy code general provides for the reorganization of debt and usually involves a corporation or partnership. It can also be used as a mechanism for liquidation. In most cases under Chapter 11, the debtor puts forward a plan of reorganization to keep their business alive and pay creditors over time. Individuals and those with small businesses can also seek relief in chapter 11. In general, Chapter 11 bankruptcy is available to every business, whether organized as a corporation or a sole proprietorship, and to individuals, although it is most prominently used by corporations. Chapter 11 usually allows the debtor to retain control of his business operations as a debtor in possession. This however is subject to the oversight and jurisdiction of the court. Due to the complexities of the bankruptcy process, anyone considering filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy should seek the advice of an experienced bankruptcy lawyer. A bankruptcy attorney can help you to protect your business from litigation by creditors and to keep as many assets as possible.
Other less common types of bankruptcies in the United States Bankruptcy Code are Chapter 9, Chapter 12, and Chapter 15. Chapter 12 Bankruptcy is available to people with family farms or family commercial fishing operations in trouble. In certain situations, family fishing or farming businesses that are corporations or partnerships may also qualify. Like in Chapter 13, the fisherman or farmer must come up with an acceptable debt repayment plan that will be paid-off within three to five years. Chapter 12 is less complicated and costly when compared to Chapters 11 and 13, and has higher debt limits. Chapter 9 Bankruptcy is for municipal bankruptcy. It is a means of debt resolution used exclusively by municipalities, including towns, cities, but also school districts, municipal utilities, and taxing authorities. Chapter 9 allows municipalities to reorganize debt and extend the prepayment timeline. The least common type of bankruptcy is Chapter 15. Chapter 15 is used in international cases to help foreign debtors access U.S. Bankruptcy Courts to clear debts. The Chapter 15 proceeding is usually secondary to the primary proceeding which generally takes place in the debtor's home country.
Due to lower monthly payments, Balloon loans and Balloon mortgages can be appealing, but consumers need to be aware that this type of financing can cause serious problems at the end of the term when a large lump payment must be made to pay off the remaining balance. In the case of a balloon mortgage, the payment could be hundreds of thousands of dollars. If the consumer does not have the money to make the payment, or is unable to refinance, the consequences can be disastrous, including losing their home in foreclosure. If you have a balloon mortgage coming due, call a qualified financial rescue lawyer. For balloon mortgage help in the Chicago area, call Richard Fonfrias.
Today, more people than ever before are experiencing serious financial problems caused by accumulating debt. Whether the debt is related to high mortgage costs, unpaid medical bills, unpaid credit card debt or debt from loans, many people cannot pay their bills. Often people in debt are unsure how to get out of debt and where to go to get good financial help. Skyrocketing medical costs leave those without medical insurance with huge medical bills. A growing number of medical bankruptcies are the result. Declaring bankruptcy is often the best course of action for those facing overwhelming debt. If a debtor cannot work out an affordable plan to get out of debt, then he should consider Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Chapter 7 (liquidation) erases most of the person's debt. Chapter 13 (repayment) allows the debtor to negotiate a payment plan with creditors and then, with the Bankruptcy Court's approval, start paying down his debt. It is very important to talk to an experienced financial rescue and bankruptcy lawyer in order to get the best financial advice before taking any action.
The past few years have proven to be very difficult for many American families. Millions have seen their net worth plummet. Many have homes that have dropped in value and are now worth less than the amount mortgaged and owed to the bank. Many have lost their homes to foreclosure or have filed for bankruptcy. Throughout the country, people are coping with serious money problems, dealing with creditors, debt collectors, loan officers, repossessions, wage garnishing and worse. Even today, many hardworking Americans are still deep in debt and are finding it impossible to meet all their financial obligations. Although the recession is officially over, there are a lot of people still struggling with significant financial problems. Reduced income caused by job loss or a reduction in work hours is making it difficult for some to pay their bills. Other are faced with substantially increased mortgage payments due to adjustable rate mortgages.
In 2010, there were almost 1.55 million bankruptcy filings in the United States, an 8% increase over the previous year's bankruptcy total of nearly 1.44 million. Although bankruptcy numbers are still rising, they have slowed down considerably when compared with 2008 to 2009 where bankruptcy filings increased a staggering 32 percent. While this slowdown represents a small sliver of hope for recovery, there are still more families facing financial ruin, overwhelming credit card debt, home foreclosures and bankruptcy. As well, some economists are predicting that, due to a very busy 2010 holiday shopping season, early 2011 may see a further increase in bankruptcy filings when cash strapped consumers discover that they can't pay their holiday bills.
California, Florida and Illinois were states that reported some of the highest bankruptcy filings numbers in 2010. With more than 255,000 bankruptcy filings, the state of California has the dubious distinction of having the highest number of bankruptcies in the country. Florida came in second, with over 110,000 filings for bankruptcy, an increase of 16.5 percent from 2009. Both Florida and California were hit especially hard when the housing bubble collapsed, and both states were hit with unemployment numbers higher than the national average. Two Federal Court Districts that received the highest number of bankruptcy filings in 2010 were Los Angeles, California and Jacksonville, Florida. The Floridian Middle District, which includes Fort Myers, Orlando, Tampa and Jacksonville, saw almost 67,000 bankruptcy filings in 2010. The Florida Times-Union reports that this means that almost one out of every 100 area residents declared bankruptcy.
Although experts agree that the economy is starting to recover, as of Feb 2011, the mortgage crisis continues to drag on. In 2010, 33 states saw an increase in foreclosure rates, with Arizona, Nevada, New Jersey and Utah reporting the biggest jump in foreclosure numbers. Particularly disappointing was the performance of loan modification programs like the Home Affordable Modification Plan (HAMP) that did little to reduce the high number of distressed loans. December 2010 saw a drop of 58% in the number of mortgage modifications from the April 2009 peak. Financial professionals agree that low mortgage modification numbers will probably result in more home foreclosures in 2011.
While financial analysts have come down hard on (HAMP) and other loan modification programs that have been ineffective at significantly reducing the number of foreclosures, they also warn consumers about dual tracking, a policy of many financial institutions that puts homes up for sale while the homeowner is working to save it from foreclosure. There are thousands of borrowers, negotiating to lower mortgage payments with their lenders, who are unaware that their lender is, at the same time, working to sell their home. Advocacy groups want to end dual tracking and are outraged with banks and other mortgage investors for "tricking" homeowners. They feel that more needs to be done to increase public awareness about the shortcoming of the dual track system and to curtail the questionable practices of some banks servicing delinquent mortgages.
Home loan modification programs can be difficult to understand. It is important for homeowners in financial trouble to get independent, expert advice to guide them through the complicated process and to help them better understand all the pitfalls, advantages and potential outcomes possible when making the decision to apply for a home loan modification. Even though the banks may not be helpful disclosing details, it is up to the consumer to be fully informed. An experienced financial rescue and bankruptcy lawyer should be the first person you turn to for help. You will find a wealth of timely information that may help you to save your home, on the Chicago money lawyer Rich Fonfrias' website.
It is important for home owners who are struggling to make mortgage payments or facing foreclosure to understand that there are legitimate options available to help save their home. However, consumers should be aware that there are also many disreputable companies and con artists offering highly questionable financial help services that prey on people in financial distress. Currently, there are a number of mortgage relief and loan modification scams operating throughout the country that do little to help homeowners in distress and in some cases, make a bad situation much worse. Most of these phony credit counselors and scammers demand an upfront fee, and once they have your money, they do little to help and, in some cases, even make your financial problems much worse.
Something that every home owner in financial distress should know is that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation's consumer protection agency, has a Rule in place - The Mortgage Assistance Relief Services (MARS) that offers some protection for homeowners in financial difficulties. The MARS Rule makes it illegal for companies to collect any fees until a homeowner has actually received an offer of relief from his or her lender and accepted it. In plain language, this means that even if you agree to have a financial rescue or loan modification company help you, you don't have to pay until they deliver the result that you want. Knowing about the Mars rule could help protect homeowners from unscrupulous mortgage relief companies, con artists and phony home rescue scams. Just remember, if a company demands an upfront payment, best to find legitimate financial help elsewhere.
Mortgage relief and loan modification scams are as varied as the scam artists that run them. They also use an array of tactics to find their victims. Some con artists read through public foreclosure notices in newspapers and on the internet or through public files at local government offices to find homeowners in financial distress and send personalized letters, offering "financial help" or "credit counseling." Others place advertisements in newspapers and magazines, or advertise on television or radio, giving them a false air of respectability and making them appear legitimate. You will also find ads for loan modifications and foreclosure help posted on telephone poles, median strips, at bus stops, and on the internet. Many mortgage relief scam artists promote their businesses with flyers, business cards, or by selling their services door to door. They use simple, but potentially deceptive messages that attract attention, like: "Stop foreclosure now!", "Get a loan modification!", "Over 90% of our customers get results.", "We have special relationships with banks that can speed up the approval process.", "100% Money Back Guarantee.", "Keep Your Home. We know your home is scheduled to be sold. No Problem!"
There are a number of tactics that Americans struggling with mortgage payments and wanting to avoid foreclosure can employ and there are legitimate mortgage relief service providers that can help. Strategies that can let financially strapped homeowners keep their homes and help make their monthly payments more affordable include, Mortgage Modification; changing one or more of terms of mortgage to make it more affordable, Mortgage Reinstatement; working with the lender to reinstate the mortgage to take it out of default, Mortgage Replacement Plans; negotiating with the lender to pay mortgage arrears, and Mortgage Forbearance; having the lender delay foreclosure, while negotiating modified terms of payment .
Bankruptcy, home foreclosure, mortgage default, credit card debt, tax liens and bad credit, these serious financial problems are affecting more Americans than ever before. Rest assured that there are legitimate workable solutions available that can eventually fix even the most desperate financial situation, however it is important to get the best financial and legal advice possible for the most favorable outcome. For Chicago bankruptcy advice, talk to Richard Fonfrias, an Illinois financial rescue lawyer who can help you decide whether bankruptcy is right for you or if you can save your Chicago home from foreclosure. A well-respected financial rescue and bankruptcy lawyer based in Chicago, Illinois, Richard Fonfrias has practiced law for over 13 years and has comprehensive experience working with individuals, families and business owners to assist them in overcoming serious financial problems. Chicago Money Lawyer Richard Fonfrias represents clients in a wide variety of financial difficulties, including creditor lawsuit defense, credit card defense, foreclosure defense, debt elimination, reduction and settlement, tax elimination, loan modifications, mortgage modifications, and chapter 7, 11 and 13 bankruptcies.
If mounting unpaid bills, escalating debt, and calls from collection agencies are causing you stress and worry and you are seriously questioning the sustainability of your current financial situation, you need to take immediate action, either by tackling the problem yourself or by seeking the advice of a financial expert like a credit counselor or bankruptcy lawyer. The sooner you address the situation and take control of your finances, the quicker your problems can be resolved. If action is taken in time, it might be possible to fix your credit problems and improve your financial circumstances on your own. There are several things that you can do right away to get yourself back on the road to financial health, before the damage is irreversible.
The next step that you should take is to call your creditors. Your creditors really do want to hear from you, especially if you are behind in your payments. By calling your creditors, you are demonstrating to them that you are a responsible person who is serious about repaying their financial obligations. You will find that most of your creditors will be willing to work with you to find a solution. Ask your creditors whether they are willing to offer a reduction in your payments, an extended deferral of your debt, a longer repayment plan, or a reduced interest rate. It is important to remember that your creditors want to get paid, and by working with you, they stand a much better chance of collecting. Depending on the debt, if you were to declare bankruptcy, your creditors are unlikely to receive anything and they know it.
Next, consider the advantages of consolidating all of your unsecured debt with a consolidation loan. Loan consolidation is a way for a debtor to turn multiple unsecured loans, credit lines, credit card debt , etc. into a larger single loan, paying off most, if not all creditors. Bear in mind that secured debt, like your home mortgage, is not eligible for loan consolidation. Many financial institutions offer debt consolidation loans. Often a consolidation loan will have a lower interest rate than what you might currently be paying, to credit card companies and department stores. The money that you save on interest charges can be substantial.
If you are totally committed to eliminating debt, avoiding bankruptcy and solving your personal money problems, you may want to consider selling any high-value possessions you own that you could live without or that are costing you money to maintain. Assets such as second homes or recreational properties, second cars, boats and other high price recreational vehicles, and even valuable art and jewelry. The sale of any of these items will not only give you cash to pay down your debt, it could also reduce your monthly expenses as well. By example, if you were to sell your second car, you would no longer have to make car payments, or pay for insurance, licensing and maintenance on that vehicle. If you sold a vacation property, you would eliminate bills for property taxes, maintenance, insurance and mortgage payments, if the property has been mortgaged. Often valuable jewelry and expensive art is insurance. Sell these insured items and you no longer need to pay to insurance them.
Sometimes, no matter how hard a person tries to avoid it, filing for bankruptcy becomes their only option, even when they have done their best to pay down debt, spoken with creditors, and talked to credit counsels to no avail. Filing for personal bankruptcy is usually the last resort for those who are unable to maintain their current debt load. In order to start the bankruptcy process in a way that will reduce further financial damage and emotional strain, and to start you on the right path to rebuild your credit history, it is important that you seek the assistance of an experienced bankruptcy attorney who can help you every step of the way. A bankruptcy lawyer will help you to avoid costly mistakes and clear up any misconceptions about bankruptcy that you might have about the bankruptcy process. Before you do anything, even if you are only just considering the possibility of filing, speak with a bankruptcy lawyer first. A lawyer who is experienced handling bankruptcies will lead you through the processes and advice you whether you should file for a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Your lawyer will also be able to steer you clear of some very common mistakes that people sometimes make before they file and during the bankruptcy processes.
Here are a few examples of the most common mistakes that people make before they file for bankruptcy; they take out a home equity loan or second mortgage, they wait until they lose their home in foreclosure or have their property reposed before filing, they borrow money from relatives to pay debt, they withdraw money from retirement accounts, they use credit cards to pay debt, or they file for bankruptcy too early, especially if they are expecting to receive money in the near future from an inheritance, a large income tax refund or any type of payment of money that is outstanding to them. Speak with a bankruptcy attorney well before filing, to avoid unnecessary and costly mistakes.
Here are some of the typical mistakes people make during the bankruptcy process, when they file without the help of a bankruptcy lawyer. Top on the list of mistakes is neglecting to list all creditors and failing to attend the bankruptcy hearing. In most cases, if you don't attend your bankruptcy hearing, the court could dismiss your bankruptcy; leaving you in the same position you were in before filing for bankruptcy, unprotected against creditors. Another mistake that people make during the bankruptcy filing is withholding information from their lawyer. In order for your bankruptcy attorney to best help your case, it is important that you are completely honest and don't conceal any information. Not being truthful, or withholding important information from your lawyer is a risk that could possibly result in the loss of assets, the dismissal of your bankruptcy case and even criminal charges.
For those considering filing for bankruptcy in Illinois, there is some good news. Illinois law allows most people who file for bankruptcy to keep all of their property, including, their home, car, furniture, appliances, and employer sponsored retirement plans, among other things. This gives people in bankruptcy the chance to make a fresh start and to more quickly work their way back to good financial health. As well, the negative impact bankruptcy has on your ability to secure credit maybe not as bad as you expect. By establishing responsible financial practices, it won't be long before you will be approved for credit cards and not too far down the road even for a home mortgage.
After you have determined whether to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy (reorganization) or Chapter 7 (liquidation), one of the next steps in the bankruptcy process is figuring out if you meet the criteria. In order to qualify for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Illinois, you will need to pass the Illinois bankruptcy Means Test. In other words, you may be eligible for Chapter 7, if your income is equal to or lesser than the Illinois median income level. A formula is used to evaluate your monthly income in comparison to similar-sized Illinois households. Even if your income is higher, you may still be eligible. However, if your family income is over the state median level, the calculation process to determine eligibility for a Chapter 7 filing is more complex. To find out what the current median income level in Illinois is, consult with an Illinois bankruptcy lawyer as the numbers can change at any time, or visit the web site of the United States Trustee Program for up to date information on state median incomes. Bear in mind that most people in debt who are burdened with unpaid bills will most likely qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, although for some people, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy might be a better alternative. Again, it is always best to seek the counsel of an experienced bankruptcy attorney to determine which course of action is best.
There are many reasons why people get into money problems; credit card bills, IRS debt, student loans, balloon mortgage repayment, medical bills and more. Bankruptcy protection is provided for in the Constitution to help those that need debt help make a fresh start. Should you decide to seek bankruptcy relief, there are a few options. You can represent yourself, you can try to get the help of a bankruptcy petitioner, or you can hire a BK lawyer. If you do hire a BK attorney or bankruptcy petitioner, it is the law that they give you a written contract specifying what they will do for you and the cost involved.
In the states of California and Florida, homeowners and individuals carrying debt have been particularly hard hit during the recession. Due to the sheer numbers of people in California and Florida in financial trouble, these states had seen widespread problems with disreputable financial rescue companies. Many Florida homeowners and people with debt problems in California have been taken advantage of by dishonest debt management relief companies or have been given disastrous advice from unqualified credit councilors. The practices of some Florida debt resettlement companies and some California debt resettlement companies have come under serious scrutiny. Consumers need to be aware of the laws of their state and consult with recognized state consumer protection organizations before dealing with any debt settlement company. The Fonfrias Law Group, an experienced and trusted financial rescue law firm serving Illinois, California and Florida, offers Florida debt settlement help and California debt settlement assistance. Our financial legal services can help with debt management relief in California and relief from creditors in Florida.
California and Florida homeowners are more likely than homeowners anywhere else in the country to own an upside down home. An upside down home is one where the owner owes more to the bank or mortgage company than the house is worth. Owning an upside down house means that the homeowner not only has zero home equity, he has negative equity. This growing problem of negative home equity is also referred to as having an upside down mortgage or an underwater mortgage. Most homeowners who are upside down in their home mortgage are in this position because their house has dropped in value and/or their mortgage loan balance has risen. Upside down homeowners face serious financial problems because they have no home equity to borrow against in case of an emergency and, should they wish to sell their home, they must come up with difference between what the property sells for and what is owed to the mortgage company.
California consumers should know that advance fees for California loan modifications are now illegal. As of October 2009, any person, including real estate brokers, real estate salespeople, lawyers, corporations, companies, partnerships or any other licensed or unlicensed person or party, cannot demand payment in advance for loan modification services in California. This includes any advance charges or collections, upfront or retainer fees, or any other type of pre-payment compensation, for loan modification work or services, or any other form of mortgage loan forbearance. It is a violation under California law for anyone to charge in advance for services such as home loan renegotiate, home loan modify, arranging to have a lender refrain from collecting mortgage payments, or assisting in avoiding foreclosure in California. For more details on Senate Bill 94 (Calderon) and recent changes to the law, visit the Government of California website.
If you are considering hiring the services of a debt settlement company, especially for Californian debt settlement services or Florida debt settlement services, make sure you check with a recognized state consumer protection group to find a legitimate debt consolidation company or financial rescue credit counselor who provides honest service and not one under investigation for fraud and deceptive business practices. For residents in Illinois, California and Florida who want to be certain that they receive the best financial help available, Richard Fonfrias offers debt settlement services to help people get back on their feet financially. Rich is a lawyer and a member of the Illinois State Bar, and the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission which monitors and scrutinizes his services. Financial rescue clients can rest assured that if Rich were unethical or dishonest, the Illinois State Bar Association would revoke his license to practice law. For over 14 years, Rich has helped people in financial trouble by providing competent, effective legal and debt settlement services.
In addition to offering complete bankruptcy legal services and expert bankruptcy counseling, Chicago Bankruptcy lawyer Rich Fonfrias also provides a number of credit repair services and helpful legal strategies for those with poor credit scores who want to boost their credit rating, pay down debt and generally improve their family finances. The Fonfrias Law Group can help with such things as removing mistakes in credit reports, easing compliance violations, rehabilitating defaulted obligations, improving and optimizing FICO scores, assisting with building new credit, and providing management strategies to deal with existing debt.
Although, as Chicago's financial rescue and experienced bankruptcy lawyer, Richard Fonfrias specializes in Illinois bankruptcy, but he can also offer you bankruptcy alternatives, if declaring personal bankruptcy is something that you just don't want to do. Surprisingly, there are a number of alternatives to bankruptcy that people in financial distress should look into, but often don't. These bankruptcy avoidance strategies are sometimes over looked by lawyers, especially those who don't specialize in bankruptcy law. Rich will explain to you all possible bankruptcy avoidance tactics and will answer any questions that you might have.
Sometimes people find it hard to face the fact that they are in trouble and need help. It's not always easy to admit that you have a serious problem that you are unable to solve yourself. This is especially true of people in financial distress. If you are struggling with debt and are running out of options, your best course of action is to seek the advice of a bankruptcy attorney as soon as possible. The sooner you talk with an experienced bankruptcy lawyer, the better. A lawyer will be able to answer your questions about bankruptcy and lead you through the process every step of the way. Rich Fonfrias understands your concerns. He has helped thousands of people in the Chicago area with financial problems. He is happy to answer your questions about Illinois bankruptcy law, foreclosure, tax liens and many other financial concerns. To Chicago money lawyer and financial rescue guru Rich Fonfrias, nothing is more important than helping people in financial distress solve their money problems. The best way to deal with money problems is to admit to them and take action, before they get out of control. When you call the Fonfrias Chicago bankruptcy law office, our first priority is to understand your situation to determine how we can work together to resolve your financial problems, then we will discuss our flexible fee structure. We know that at times like this, when you are in financial distress and may be facing foreclosure or bankruptcy, the last thing you want to worry about is how to pay another bill.
The Chicago law practice of Richard Fonfrias deals exclusively with individuals and businesses in serious financial difficulties and facing overwhelming money problems. Rich provides legal services to businesses and individuals, helping both people in financial distress and businesses facing insolvency. For businesses in financial distress, Rich offers the following legal services: Chapter 7 bankruptcy or liquidation, Chapter 11 bankruptcy or reorganization, alternatives to bankruptcy in Illinois, creditor lawsuit defense, credit card defence, foreclosure defense, bank account seizure prevention, prevent equipment repossession, restructuring and debt settlement, debt elimination, negotiations with creditors, loan, mortgage and line of credit modifications, review and modify lease and loan contracts.
As a Chicago money lawyer, Richard Fonfrias also provides a number of credit repair services to help his clients fix their credit problems and establish a good credit rating after bankruptcy. Rich has a number of strategies to help turn your credit score around and improve you financial future. He can help remove credit report errors, erase compliance violations, improve and optimize your FICO scores, build new credit, manage existing debt and rehabilitate default obligations. For those who owe outstanding taxes to the state and/or have outstanding federal taxes, Rich has a number of tax reduction and tax elimination strategies to help clients who are dealing with serious tax problems. Just some of the services that Rich provides to assist his clients with tax problems in Illinois include removing IRS and state tax liens, filing late tax returns, erasing taxes in bankruptcy, settling back taxes, and saving businesses and saving homes from seizure due to unpaid taxes.
To be a good bankruptcy lawyer, you need to be so much more than an attorney who knows about bankruptcy law. A good bankruptcy lawyer has years of experience guiding clients through the bankruptcy process. An excellent bankruptcy lawyer carefully listens to clients in order to fully understand their unique situation, before recommending the appropriate course of action. An excellent bankruptcy lawyer will also take the time to explain to clients in laymen's terms how the bankruptcy process works and what to expect. An exceptional bankruptcy lawyer will do all of the above, but will also have a policy of returning clients calls as soon as possible.
Most bankruptcy cases in the United States are voluntary bankruptcies. A voluntary bankruptcy is when an insolvent debtor petitions the bankruptcy court to declare bankruptcy. In other words, the individual or business that is having financial problems initiates bankruptcy proceedings as a way of dealing with debt that cannot be repaid and settling with creditors. Much rarer is an involuntary bankruptcy. With an involuntary bankruptcy, it is the insolvent business's of the creditors who initiate bankruptcy proceeding by filing the bankruptcy petition. An involuntary bankruptcy petition that forces a business into bankruptcy occurs when a creditor wants to ensure that their rights protected. Allowing involuntary bankruptcies is just one of the ways bankruptcy law protects creditors. Involuntary bankruptcies are not common and they are typically filed against businesses. A creditor might want to consider pushing a business into bankruptcy if they have reason to believe that the business has the money to pay their bills, but is either failing to do so or, for some reason, is refusing to pay what is owed. An involuntary bankruptcy petition can be filed against an individual, although this rarely happens. Generally, individuals who aren't paying their bills probably have few assets and, in all likelihood, are in debt to other businesses as well. It would not be in a creditor's best interest to push for bankruptcy as it reduces the chance of ever collecting on the debt, unless the individual who owes money is extremely wealthy and has significant assets.
If you would like to learn more about how to get out of debt in Illinois or how filing for bankruptcy may help you to avoid foreclosure, Richard Fonfrias, the Chicago Money Lawyer, invites you to come out to his upcoming free seminar. In his free seminar, Rich will discuss a number of strategies that can be taken to regain control of your finances, get out of debt through bankruptcy or get out of debt without bankruptcy. Rich's provides the facts about bankruptcy along with other information on important topics of interest to those with financial problems in Illinois.
As well as keeping up with his busy Chicago law practice and writing informative articles for his website that provide helpful information on a variety of legal topics, including bankruptcy, credit repair, foreclosure, debt consolidation, and taxes, Richard Fonfrias also finds the time to host a radio show and give free informational seminars. Rich believes that people dealing with serious financial problems need to have access to good information and the best professional advice. Rich does his part to educate the public on financial legal matters through his website, shows and seminars. He has helped thousands of people in debt to make informed decisions so that they might repair their finances and stay out of money trouble in the future.
Filing for bankruptcy is not something to be ashamed of. Many people are forced into bankruptcy through no fault of their own. Unfortunate circumstances that can lead to money problems, like losing your job, a serious illness or accident can happen to anyone. The important thing to realize is that bankruptcy gives you a chance to start over - to wipe the slate clean and begin to build a solid financial future, unencumbered by mountains of unpaid bills, liens, wage garnishment and harassing calls from creditors. Actively dealing with your financial problems by filing for bankruptcy with the guidance of an experienced bankruptcy attorney is the first step to improving your personal financial situation and regaining your self-esteem.
If you are a small business owner who is unable to make ends meet. If you have business debts that you are unable to pay; If there are major expenses like leases for commercial space, vehicles and equipment that you want out of; If vendors have taken a lien against your home or have received a judgment against your business: if creditors and collection agencies are harassing you: it may be time to consider Chapter 7 bankruptcy to erase your business debt. Small business owners who are the sole owner of their business or who are in a general partnership are personally liable for their company's debts. By filing for Chapter 7 personal bankruptcy all financial obligations can be erased.
The State of Illinois was particularly hard hit when America dipped into recession in 2008. Many people lost their jobs and then lost their homes in foreclosure. Personal bankruptcies soared, as did the number of businesses that closed down and filed for Chapter 7 or Chapter 11 or Chapter 13. While recover has been slow and painful for many, the economic outlook is definitely showing improvement for those looking for work. According to the Illinois Department of Employment Security, the state's unemployment rate is at a five year low of 7.9% in April 2014. The unemployment rate in Chicago was slightly higher at 8.5% and the National unemployment rate was set at 6.3% in April. The good news is that the economy is in recovery; the bad news is that some people, and some businesses, are still hurting. It is often the case that the recovery period after a recession can be the hardest time for a business that is just scraping by. Even if it somehow managed to keep in the black and pay the bills during the recession, over time this becomes harder to do, especially if the economy is recovering slowly. Sometimes businesses in financial distress are in trouble through no fault of their own. There are many types of financial problems for business and there are many reasons why businesses can fail. Regardless of the cause, businesses in trouble need to get professional financial help as soon as possible if they want to avoid business bankruptcy.
Facing personal bankruptcy or the bankruptcy of a business can be stressful. The process can be over-whelming. With so much at stake - including your financial future, it only makes sense to get the best legal help possible; a qualified and experienced bankruptcy lawyer. Richard Fonfrias, a member of the Illinois Bar Association and has practiced law in Illinois for many years; in Illinois State Courts, the Illinois Supreme Court and the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Rich is a member of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys and regularly attends the continuing legal education programs that they sponsor.
No one wants to pay taxes, especially taxes that they don't owe, or pay tax penalties assessed due to someone else's mistakes. If the IRS sends you a collections letter for unpaid taxes that you feel you shouldn't have to pay, you may be in luck. The Innocent-Spouse Rule was established to protect people from liability when a spouse fails to pay their taxes or incurs additional taxes and penalties for fraudulent claims and errors. To be eligible for the protection afforded by the Innocent-Spouse Rule, the innocent spouse must file a claim along with supporting documents and must be able to show that he or she did not incur the tax or was unaware of any fraud.
Anyone who doesn't pay their taxes is subject to the Federal government placing a lien or a levy on their personal property. A levy is different from a tax lien. With a tax levy, the IRA actually seizes personal property as payment for taxes outstanding. With a federal tax lien (FTL), while personal property is not initially taken, the IRS can attach a lien without the owners permission or consent to virtually any item of personal property that the delinquent tax payer owns, even clothing, furniture and cash. The lien is in place until the IRS decides to go to court to foreclose on the lien, or the tax payer pays his outstanding tax bill. Federal and State tax laws and tax liens are complex and are often too complicated for the average person to fully understand. Should you find yourself in trouble with the IRS, we invite you to call Chicago's money lawyer.
The IRA has the power to freeze bank accounts to collect unpaid taxes. If the IRS makes the decision to freeze an account, the financial institution has no choice but to comply. A frozen bank account is usually the result of a tax payer failing to respond to IRS collection notices demanding payment. Bank accounts can also be frozen when the IRS is trying to collect a balance remaining when the account holder has defaulted on a payment plan or Office to Compromise. Once a bank account is frozen, after 21 days, if no action is taken, the bank will transfer the money owing to the IRS.
At the Fonfrias law group, we are often asked by people struggling with debt, whether they need a credit and debt lawyer to represent them and help them deal with debt-related problems. A debt attorney has the skills and expertise to be of great assistance when facing credit card companies, debt collectors and collection agencies. Using their knowledge of the law, they can be very helpful negotiating with banks and creditors, and stopping creditor harassment. He can advise you of your rights and explain all possible solutions to solve your debt problems. A debt and bankruptcy lawyer can help you find your way through the legal system and improve your chances of a positive outcome, whichever path you choose.
If you have a failing Illinois business and have questions about sole proprietorship bankruptcy, bankruptcy for limited partnerships, corporation bankruptcy, and limited liability company bankruptcy, or other strategies to reduce company debt and save your business, please call the Fonfrias Law Group. For instance, did you know that in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy you may be able to keep your business assets while you rearrange and pay off your creditors? When arranging your Chapter 13 repayment plan, the trustee may allow you to reduce the balance of some of your debts to the actual value of the property. These could include car and equipment loans. By reducing the balance of the debts in your plan, you also reduce the amount of the monthly payment you must make.
Over the years, Rich Fonfrias has helped thousands of people in financial distress through his busy Chicago legal practice and through this website with regularly added new articles on a variety of helpful topics. As well, Rich leads the Chicago Debt Elimination Meetup Group, drawing from his vast experience as a Chicago bankruptcy attorney. Fonfrias also finds the time to share his expertise on a variety of financial legal matters through free financial help seminars and radio talk shows, answering questions about bankruptcy and debt management. His book, Rich's Common Sense Guide to Erasing Debt & Building Wealth in Tough Times, provides helpful tips for people in financial trouble and for those who want to prevent money problems in the future.
The Fonfrias Law Group is a Chicago law practice that specializes in personal and business bankruptcy, debt management and restructuring, credit repair and more. We are always happy to talk you answer any questions you might have.
By Rich Fonfrias
Owner: Richard Fonfrias
Fonfrias Law Group, LLC
Fonfrias Law Group serving Chicago & Illinois area offers bankruptcy legal services, debt consolidation, bad credit
repair, foreclosure defense, credit card debt management, loan and mortgage refinancing. We can help with all forms of homeowner and consumer
financial rescue in emergency situations.
70 West Madison St., Suite 1400