Monday, November 7, 2011

Bankruptcy and Foreclosure

Bankruptcy will stop a foreclosure sale. It will stop all state court actions unless and until the automatic stay is lifted by the Bankruptcy Judge. It may force the mortgage company to take a different stand, one more amenable to modification or negotiation.  In the foreclosure crisis that the nation is facing, it has probably become more common to file for bankruptcy relief only to stop a foreclosure sale. However, it is an abuse of the Bankruptcy Code to file a bankruptcy for the sole purpose of halting a foreclosure sale. When a bankruptcy is filed, one of the first things which occurs is that the clerk sets a meeting of creditors which will take place within a month or six weeks. If the debtor does not show up for the meeting, another meeting will be set, and if the debtor fails to show for the second meeting, the case can be dismissed. A debtor who files a bankruptcy for the sole purpose of stopping a foreclosure sale will not usually appear for the mandatory meeting, and will not usually file all the documents required. The case will eventually be dismissed, and the mortgage company will eventually get the automatic stay lifted so that the foreclosure can proceed. It is important that each debtor acts in “good faith” when filing for bankruptcy protection, and filing solely to stop a foreclosure is not acting in good faith. The mortgage companies have too many properties which have already been foreclosed upon, and are more likely to allow modification. There are millions of foreclosed and vacant homes across the country and with over one million foreclosures being filed each year, there will be more.  The current economic circumstances are dismal and for many there is no real choice but to file for protection. If and when you file, be sure not to fall into the category of “bad faith” filings, make sure to follow through with filing all the documents required and attending the meeting of creditors. A fresh start is available.

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