Debt Relief Law Offices of Tampa Bay

Tampa Bankruptcy Attorney 727-849-3328

When to Call A Bankruptcy Attorney When Selling Your Home

Posted on Oct 15, 2014

Host: Good afternoon, it is the Debt Relief Program with Ms. Ziona Kopalovich. Bit my tongue when I did that, just so you know, I just gave blood for you, young lady. Ow!

Ziona: You did.

Host: Ow!

Ziona: Do you want to say it again?

Host: Ziona Kopalovich.

Ziona: See good, now you’re practiced.

Host: I know pretty good, a lot better than the first time we did this. We were talking about the Debt Relief Program of course. This is an opportunity for you, to really just kind of determine you know how bad is my situation? Is it really? How deep am I in? And you is a time for me to consider looking maybe possibly filing for bankruptcy? Or is there hope? And really there are questions that can be asked in this thing. But one of the questions that I’ve never asked in the time that we’ve talked. And you have kind of just brought it up a second ago. Right before we started. Why do people wait so long?

Ziona: To be honest with you. I don’t know. I can’t figure it out, because I’m amazed by how long someone may wait before it occurs to them. “Maybe I should call a bankruptcy attorney?” Let me venture here, maybe because they are not aware of what a bankruptcy can do for them.

Host: True.

Ziona: The Situation can be resolved very successfully by filing a bankruptcy. And at times it may take another attorney to tell them, “why don’t you see bankruptcy attorney?” And people hope sometimes against hope, that they’ll be able to somehow pull a miracle and the bad situation will not happen. Such as a foreclosure.

Host: So they’ll talk to the mortgage company, and they’ll go to hearings, and they’ll hope the judges gonna understand them. And my foreclosures on Wednesday but by Tuesday at the hearing the judge will see my side of the and the answer is. Uh, no.

Host. No.

Ziona: The Judge will say, “now you haven’t paid your mortgage in oh so many months or years. That sale is gonna go ahead.” They won’t stop the sale. So the one thing that will stop the sale is filing a bankruptcy. A Chapter 13. So in that situation I can tell you, just happen to me last Wednesday I was in a meeting with some other business owners and at around 5:30 I get his phone call. “Hi can you talk to this couple? Their house is being sold tomorrow morning at 10:00.” It’s like you know 5:30?

Host: Or like a month ago!

Ziona: Wouldn’t just you like call me like at 3:00? Or a couple of hours earlier? I mean the office is closed so I had to call my paralegal in. And asked her whether she would be willing to come in. Because she didn’t have to you know.

Host: That’s right.

Ziona: So she came in and I came in and the client came in. And we were there until 11:30 that night.

Host: Wow.

Ziona: We got case file. But know you’re counting on the computer to operate, the electronic lines to do what they’re supposed to do, that the court computer is operating. You are so trusting in in the systems around you in the last minute.

Host: And Ziona let me add, that’s just they lucked out.

Ziona: They got lucky.

Host: I look at it this way and in old football they do that Hail Mary. You know for everyone time that Hail Mary works for one touchdown there are probably 25 times that it doesn’t.

Ziona: That it does not work, right. So where do you find an attorney to do it for you? That really the night prior to what, a house being sold.

Host: They are lucky. Very lucky.

Ziona: They talked to someone who knew me who had my cell phone number and dragged me back to my office after.

Host: Here’s another question I have never asked you before!

Ziona: Okay.

Host: If you just got to that point, you’ve done all the considerations, and you think, “okay it’s time for me to consider talking to a bankruptcy attorney.” As I’m looking, Lord go up down 41 and you see for attorneys.

Ziona: Right?

Host: What questions should you when searching to choose? Not just like for a phone number. Just you blindly searched the educational purposes, what kind of questions would you ask?

Ziona: Well, first you want to look at what, how this attorney puts himself or herself out. One thing was important to me because I think it is important to the client is to go as an attorney go ahead and get my certification in the field that I practice. So I am board-certified in bankruptcy. It’s not just that one day I decided okay I can start filing bankruptcies because I know how to do it! Or I can teach myself how to do it.

Host: Right.

Ziona: But I have taken the extra steps to study further and be tested on it by the Board of Certification. The American Board of Certification, and get the certification in doing bankruptcy law. So I think that’s definitely.

Host: That’s your big one right there.

Ziona: That’s the big one, yeah. And they really are in this area. I don’t know, I do not know if I am the only one. Seriously. That you can chime up.

Host: But there aren’t really? If there aren’t, can any attorney do it? Is that how it is?

Ziona: Well, but well you have that you want to do it, you contact the board and there are tests that there are hoops that you have to go to jump through.

Host: Sure, definitely.

Ziona: And to pass a test.

Host: And with brand-new cool black boots like you’re wearing, it’s easy to jump through those hoops.

Ziona: Oh yes, you like my books?

Host: I think know that we mentioned them.

Ziona: Yes?

Host: You can write them off now.

Ziona: The boots? How can I write them off?

Host: Well because we talked about them on the radio.

Ziona: We talked about them on the radio.

Host: Well you see it became a subject and you can now.

Ziona: There you go!

Host:  By the way, I’m not a board certified tax accountant.

Ziona: I’ll take that into consideration!

Host: So I know that when you contact, again I’m picking on these large groups that had do a lot of advertising, they’ll have somebody in their office that specializes in bankruptcy. But you want to be specific and say are you board-certified?

Ziona: Board certified. Right, because it tells you something. It tells you that that attorney has been doing it for a number of years and that attorney has a certain experience in the court appearances. In the kind of cases that they handle and they were specifically tested in that area. I had to answer questions and somebody else had had to graded, you know, and you had to pass that. Just like you know you have to pass any exam. Where attorneys who are not board certified don’t have to do that. They just had to decide that in file bankruptcies. Because see we have the license to do that.

Host: Sure.

Ziona: You know? But it doesn’t mean that we’re qualified to do that.

Host: And if your attorney is not board-certified then do ask them to recommend one.

Ziona: Right and so you know that’s one thing. Another thing I mean I was you have to get along with an attorney and you have to go in to talk to the person and see if your minds. You have to have the meeting off the minds. Because if you don’t like the attorney as a person it is just coming create problems for you because you are just going to be frustrated. You really need to present your problems and why you’re seeking help. And listen to what the attorney says. See that it makes sense, if it doesn’t make sense if you just have funny feeling, that sense in the bones. Go with it. You can going talk to another attorney and safe that you know if you feel better.

Host:  I think what you one of the things that may be would keep someone to wait too long until they contacted you or another board-certified attorney. Is you have to break down and tell them everything in just painful.

Ziona: It’s painful. It’s personal and it’s private. But when you didn’t tell anybody about the problem look where it got you?

Host: True.

Ziona: You are in the place where you really are not doing too well. So you really need to going get professional help. So that is my recommendation. Don’t be shy. Don’t be shy make the call or you know make an appointment go and talk to an attorney and start fixing your life.

Host: Well yeah!

Ziona: Start doing it. It’s not going be fixed at the meeting with the attorney because it is a lot of work that needs to be done. So you’re not filing for bankruptcy when you go to see the attorney.

Host: True.

Ziona: All you are doing is you’re gathering information.

Host: True, and we discussed it before that it is so imperative and so important that you do have that information as much of your financial information available and in front of you. Because you have to know everything, you really do.

Ziona: The advice that I can give my clients is as good as information that they get from my client. Right? So I have to make a judgment and I had to make a recommendation to analyze the situation based on the facts. So you better have the facts to give me. So basically when you go to see bankruptcy attorney, you need the list of your creditors, it’s good to know how much you owe those creditors, so you can do a little research. And when I talk about creditors I don’t just mean I they creditors or hounding you on the phone or by lawsuits or by letters. But also those so you keep happy. The ones where you make the payments and keep them happy. All that information is coming; everybody you owe money to you need to list. For your car lender your home lender. All those have to come in, and the ones that you forgot from 10 years ago. I know every once in a while, they raise heads.

Host: Well as I said I would imagine it when you do the filing in those things that you determine that you can discharge. If you forget something off that list and it rears its ugly head again. It’s, you got to pay it.

Ziona: Right? It doesn’t go away. So you one way and if nothing else it gives you a headache to deal with just a thought that you got three to pull your headaches here. Well here it comes you know so just try to be very meticulous you may you don’t have to be perfect the first time because as I said we don’t file that first day.

Host: Unless you’re really going fast!

Ziona: We need the list off your assets. So don’t forget. You don’t have to sit down and write I have 10 dishes 12 forks.

Host: You are right.

Ziona: That’s not important, you know if you have a boat. I’d like to know that if you have a condo in North Carolina, you know if I need to know that I need to know timeshare I need to know other real estate that you own. If you own a little airplane somewhere, I need to know that.

Host: Essentially there’s.

Ziona: Stocks and bonds, collectibles.

Host: Well let me ask you that, because it leads to a question. Where we talked about the fact that if you do get in the bankruptcy situation they can’t touch your 401(k)?

Ziona: That is correct. By in large you and your 401(k) is protected.

Host: And that includes things like annuities?

Ziona: That is correct.

Host: See I did not know. I always thought that 401(k)s were just like on their own. And just that was the only island, but if you do you have an investment in annuities and your life insurance, correct?

Ziona: In Florida, yes. So there is a difference. Florida residents obviously we used Florida exemptions and those for the most part can be found actually in the Florida statute 222. Okay?

Host: Okay.

Ziona: So there’s a list of what is exempt from creditors in Florida, but some people who come here we cannot choose Florida exemptions for them. We have people who have lived in Florida for less than two years for less than 24 months. I cannot use Florida exemptions. That’s bankruptcy law. So some stay to go back and look what state they came from and use that states exemptions if that state allows me to use their exemptions outside of the state. So for example if you come from New York and you’re in Florida and we have a lot of people from New York.

Host: We do.

Ziona: So let’s say that they have lived here for let’s say for six months. So I can file the case in Florida, but Florida is not allowing me to use Florida exemptions. I can’t. Actually the federal law does not allow me to use Florida exemptions because that person has lived here 24 months. I have to look at New York law while New York law does not allow New York residents to use New York law outside of New York. You have to live in New York to use your exemptions.

Host: Sure.

Ziona: So in that case where I don’t have another state’s law I have to use federal exemptions. Federal exemptions are not always the same as Florida exemptions. So we we’re talking about insurance policies. Florida exempts insurance. Protects it. Under federal law it is not as clear. There’s a limits on in it and on your ability to borrow money. That is not exempt if you can borrow money against your life insurance.

Host: Wow.

Ziona: So it gets a little bit more involved you can’t make blanket statement and say, yes your life insurance is exempt. Not always.

Host: Not always, now in that 24 period. If you are a snowbird and if you’re coming down but does it have to be you know 24 calendar months that the you know since you came down here? You live up in Wisconsin you, come down here six months out of the year, is it from the point when you come down here for six months and go back? Does that six months’ count? Is it six months you are in the state as well?

Ziona: The six months don’t allow you to use Florida exemptions if you’re here just for six months.

Host: Right.

Ziona: You have to make Florida your homestead.

Host: Okay.

Ziona: In order for you to use Florida. So if you’re just visiting you know it’s better for you really talk to someone in your own state. Where you really reside.

Host: Now is it common or would be, if somebody came to you and said listen I’ve been coming down from Wisconsin for 20 years, I spend six months here, would it out of line for you to be in contact with somebody in Wisconsin or an attorney there? Is that?

Ziona: No. No, I wouldn’t. I mean to file in Wisconsin they can file there. Now I have several cases now where they the debtors are not Florida residents. One of them I did not file the case the case was filed by our favorite age remember we talked about the petition filers?

Host: Oh yes!

Ziona: Who asked for ideas, who don’t know what they’re doing. So I have this one client who filed here they filed under, you know she is lived here for a couple months, and they filed the case here in Florida. And the problem is that she has a homestead out of here, not in Florida. She cannot use Florida law and even if she could, you know Florida law is not going was not going to protect her. Any rate I’m she has a homestead outside of Florida, the state they are protects only of course she is an elderly woman protects of $56,000 off her equity in her homestead.

Host: How much?

Ziona: $56,000.

Host: Wow.

Ziona: But the problem is that the home is worth $71,000. So you have a considerable amount of money that is not protected. A Chapter 7 trustee was getting ready to sell her home.

Host: Oh my.

Ziona: So we were getting to sell her home so we filed a 13 to protect it and have to pay the difference between the $71,000 and the $56,000. And this is what she would have had to pay had she filed in I believe it was Michigan. So we had we were using Michigan law there because under federal law she would get only 22,000 on the homestead instead. So we were just trying to make lemonade out of the lemon.

Host: Right, absolutely. These establishments that 56,000? Is that a percentage of the value or is that just an established amount?

Ziona: An established and every few years they give you a few more thousand dollars and they add it.

Host: It just seems like a random number.

Ziona: We have to ask the legislatures in those states.

Hosts: Well Lord knows lets’ not do that, it will only make my eyes itch and my eyes water.

Ziona: Yeah, in different states exempted different amounts. There is no uniform and then the federal is about 20 something per person. So you are talking about the married couple, then it doubles. But Michigan gives you think 56,000 to a person was elderly over 65 if you’re on the 65 it’s a different amount which I don’t remember. You know, I don’t.

Host: You don’t? I mean shame on you! How can you not remember?

Ziona: I don’t know, because I was concentrating on the over sixty-five part. Because that’s what was important, so you know we got the bigger exemptions than if she were younger. But you know in Florida of course, we’re very lucky because the legislature offered to protect all the equity that we having our homestead.

Host: That’s fabulous.

Ziona: It is fabulous.

Host: That is very nice.

Ziona: We don’t want homeless people.

Host: No, no, no, no.

Ziona: We want people to be in their home.

Host: And it is not necessarily one of the other parts that you have distressed to this. Is because you find yourself in this financial situation doesn’t mean that you’re an awful person. It just may have stumbled into really bad circumstances.

Ziona: Bad times. Right, and where here to help you. We’re here to make sure that you don’t lose your home. If you want to keep your home. If you want to lose your home and you want to get rid of it too we’ll help you with that too.

Host: Oh, exactly! Oh yeah! There is a way into a procedure and this may seem kind of crazy but I think you know like you said each person is an individual. And each person needs to be treated as such and each person has unique set of circumstances. It may came come down to it. Like you know what it’s maybe like they want to just go ahead and just like that spinoff the house. Instead of like, letting it be lost doesn’t make sense to contact you or someone to help them do the process right, for lack of a better term.

Ziona: Well it doesn’t really get lost, you know? Because the bank may take it, so you lost it in foreclosure but guess what happens to the deficiency balance?

Host: Ta-da.

Ziona: It is going down on your credit report. They may sue you for it.

Host: I know!

Ziona: And if they forgive it then Uncle Sam is gonna contribute to your income.

Host: Oh, yes.

Ziona: As phantom incomes. And you’re going to have to pay taxes you on a house that you already lost! This is a result if you don’t file bankruptcy. Now, if you file bankruptcy.

Host: Right.

Ziona: Then you clean it all up. You don’t have to pay taxes on it and you don’t have to pay the deficiency balance.

Host: I think what happens is people get into a situation like that and they be, whatever circumstance happens, like okay the house is gone the bank is satisfied, I’m wiping my hands and walking away. And that is not the case.

Ziona: That is not the case. You know, they come after you.

Host: They can, I have seen another situation where a client gets a letter from the bank, saying “okay we’re not going to come after you for the balance off the mortgage. So we are walking away have a good day.” So you might think you know. And those letter0, the letters that I have seen. Have the name of the homeowner, they may have the address of the property if the homeowner still lives there. But there is no legal description and there is not signature at the bottom of that letter. So this is just you know like a banks sending a letter, you know like whatever department, you know have a good day. No person, no actual signature. Right? And then so you think that the bank for gave your mortgage. Well not really. Because a week later you know two weeks later you get another letter from and a new mortgage company. Saying okay, guess what? It is ours.

Host: We wanted it.

Ziona: Yeah, I mean if the other one had maybe something you know with the legal description in a signature and we have forgiven your mortgage and go and record it. But here you know, no, They just said they were never coming back. Not going to ask any money from you. Oh good! But not necessarily to tell you we just sold your mortgage.

Host: We just passed this on. Look at this hand because the other one is coming! It’s that simple we got just about a minute and I just wanted to make sure that you have an opportunity to put it out there. So people want to get in contact with you. It is a free consultation!

Ziona: So sure. I’ll give you some numbers!

Host: Okay!

Ziona: Do you have a pen?

Host: I do, you want me to pull over?

Ziona: Yes! Pull over. Okay, so the main number is 727-849-3328. And a local number here is 352-678-2265.

Host: 2265. And just I would say even if it’s just remotely buried back there in the back of your mind. I think that’s enough impetus for you to just do it.

Ziona: And it is a free initial consultation.

Host: It really is.

Ziona: And you get an education and then you can make a decision.

Host: That’s it! That’s what it’s all about! Alright young lady as always it’s a pleasure.