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18

Aug 2021

Getting Your Mortgage Statements After Bankruptcy

Posted by / in Weekly Posts /

Are you getting your mortgage statements after filing bankruptcy?

Some mortgage companies use bankruptcy as an excuse to stop sending mortgage statements. (Or they send them to your lawyer, not to you.) The law is completely clear. The law says to keep sending them to you. 

That law is Regulation Z. The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau issues and enforces regulations under the Truth In Lending Act. Here’s what that regulation says.

First, the mortgage servicer has to send you a monthly statement.  That’s 12 CFR 1026.41(a)(2).  (Sometimes consumers accidentally give up a right in small print without knowing it. So the official interpretation says the consumer can’t do that. You cannot give up your right to receive monthly statements.)

Man reading mortgage statement after bankruptcy

Even after bankruptcy, your mortgage company should send you a monthly statement

Second, bankruptcy does not change that. That’s in 12 CFR 1026.41(f). While they need to keep sending the monthly statement, they also need to say that they know about the bankruptcy and that the statement is for information purposes.  §1026.41(f)(2)

Third, you or I can tell them to stop.  We can tell them directly, or through papers we file with the bankruptcy court. If you are not planning to pay and keep  the house, we can tell them to stop sending those bills.  §1026.41(a)(2)(B).  (Some mortgage companies want your lawyer to request that you KEEP getting your statements.  That stands the law on its head.  The Official Interpretation says your lawyer has the authority to tell them to STOP sending payments.  Your lawyer does NOT have the authority to tell them to keep sending payments. Why? Because Regulation Z says to send the statements without being asked.)

What If You Don’t Get Your Mortgage Statements After Bankruptcy

OK.  They are supposed to keep sending your mortgage statements. What if they just don’t?

Send them an email and link this page. (Copy me on the email.) We’ll see how that works.  

The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau has enforcement authority.  Complain to the CFPB here.  Especially since the 2020 election, the CFPB is good about following up. Hope that works.

But if that fails, can you and I to to court to make them follow Regulation Z? That’s at best a gray area. It looks like we don’t have your own private right to go to court if this right is violated.  

Can the bankruptcy court help?

The bankruptcy court has general power to carry out the provisions of the bankruptcy law.  11 USC 105.  So, can the bankruptcy court require the mortgage company to do what they are supposed to do, so that you can do what you are supposed to do?

Maybe. Several of us talked about this problem at the 2021 annual meeting of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys.  I’m hoping they do a class on it next year.

 

PS Here’s the notice:

Here’s the notice to send to the mortgage servicer, if they are NOT sending you the monthly statement.

************************************************************************************************************

NOTICE TO MORTGAGE SERVICER

Mortgage servicer!  We are sending this reminder of the law to you.

Regulation Z orders you to send monthly statements to your customers, including the ones that have filed bankruptcy.  But you are NOT doing that. That’s why I’m sending you this this notice.

Please do what you are required to do. Send your customer the mortgage statements every month, like you are required to do.  You do NOT need my permission as your customer’s lawyer to send them.

You can take this as permission if you insist. But you do NOT need my permission to follow the law.  Just do it! — Robert Weed, Lawyer.

 

 

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15

Aug 2021

After Bankruptcy: Please Don’t Go Out and Co-Sign for a Car

Posted by / in After Bankruptcy, Weekly Posts /

After Bankruptcy: Please Don’t Go Right Out and Don’t Co-Sign for a Car

Got an email last week that made me sad.  Cherry filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy back in 2017.  She recently went to buy a car and ended up getting financed by Santander at 21%. After she did that, she asked why is her credit score so low, four years after bankruptcy?

When I looked at her credit report, here’s what I saw. Two months after her bankruptcy was discharged, she got a car loan with Regional Acceptance.  Regional Acceptance finances cars at terrible rates for people with terrible credit.  

Co-sign for car loan

After bankruptcy, don’t co-sign for a car.

I asked her, didn’t I warn you not to try to finance a car until at least two years–three is better–after the bankruptcy?  She said she didn’t “finance” a car: she just “co-signed for a friend.”

(The friend, of course, only paid for a year; and then the car got repossessed. Obviously the friend had really bad credit; so bad that Cherry right out of bankruptcy was needed as a co-signer.)

Instead of having the best credit of her life, four years after bankruptcy, Cherry’s score is stuck in the mid 500’s.  And Regional, if they bother, has two more years where they can sue and garnish her.

Two lessons.  First, if you have any way at all to get to work, do not finance a car until two years after your bankruptcy is discharged. Second, don’t co-sign for anybody whose credit is worse than yours. Ever.   

Please Don’t Co-Sign for a Car and Mess Up Your New Start in Life

Improving your credit score is one of five ways that bankruptcy gives you a fresh start.  Three years after bankruptcy you can have as good a credit score as anyone you know.  Don’t mess that up.  Don’t co-sign for a car for a friend.

 

 

 

 

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08

Aug 2021

A Million Dollar Mistake: Personal Injury and Bankruptcy

Posted by / in Virginia Bankruptcy, Weekly Posts /

A Million Dollar Mistake: Personal Injury and Bankruptcy

Under Virginia law, the bankruptcy court cannot take away a personal injury claim.  Injured in a car accident? Hurt in the hospital? Anyone in Virginia can file bankruptcy and still keep those claims.

Steven Ramsdell, one of the top bankruptcy lawyers here, is desperately trying to save a possible million dollar injury claim involving a Mr. Barnes, who “forgot” to tell the bankruptcy court about his personal injury.

Barnes filed bankruptcy in June 2020 and it was discharged in October 2020.  Two months later, Barnes sued a Loudoun County doctor for a million dollars, claiming a wrong prescription caused permanent damage to his liver.  In May 2021, the Loudoun County Circuit Court court threw Barnes put of court.

That’s How To Lose Your Personal Injury Claims In Bankruptcy

Here’s what happens when someone forgets to tell the bankruptcy court about your car accident or any other personal injury.

Injured in a car accident? Hurt in the hospital? You can file bankruptcy and still keep your rights. As long as you remember to tell the bankruptcy court.

Those rights are forfeit. Two ways.

First, because forgetting to tell the bankruptcy court about the claim means forgetting to protect that claim. So the injury claim now belongs to the bankruptcy trustee. Sometimes in law, “you snooze, you lose.”

Now, Barnes will ask the bankruptcy court to cut him some slack.  If the bankruptcy judge finds Barnes “forgot” because of “excusable neglect,” he may get a second chance to claim and protect his rights. 

Supposed a mortgage company overcharged someone and they didn’t know they were owed a refund. Forgetting to tell the bankruptcy court about that would easily be excusable neglect.

Barnes, on the other hand, sued his doctor less than three months after his bankruptcy was over.  Does that look like “excusable neglect.”  Or does it look like lying? 

Second, even if the bankruptcy judge helps him out, the state court judge can still toss out the suit for judicial estopple.  If Banes told the bankruptcy court that nobody owed him any money, how can he come into the state court and claim the doctor’s insurance owes him a million dollars?

Imagine this in the state court.  “You are telling this court, Mr. Barnes, that you are in constant pain? But you didn’t mention that pain when you met with your bankruptcy lawyer? Why should any jury believe you?”

Today, we don’t know how the Barnes case will turn out. Last week, the bankruptcy judge agreed he’d at least give Barnes a chance to explain his side.

PS  I should add that Steven Ramsdell was NOT the lawyer who first handled Barnes bankruptcy case. Barnes, of course, may be tempted to blame the problem on the first lawyer who handled his bankruptcy.  That first lawyer knew Barnes hadn’t worked for five months. Was that because of this injury? Should the bankruptcy lawyer have asked?

A lot of people will be sweating when the bankruptcy judge decides on “excusable neglect.”

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NORTHERN VIRGINIA BANKRUPTCY LAW OFFICES