Thomas F. Miles, Attorney and Counselor at Law
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San Diego California Bankruptcy Law Blog

Understanding a pre-foreclosure sale

Owning a home is a dream that many families in San Diego entertain. Once they are able to save up enough money to make a down payment on the home of their wishes, it may seem as though their challenges related to homeownership are over. Although some people are able to keep up with their mortgage payments and retain the residences that they worked hard to purchase, others are unable to make their monthly payments and risk losing their homes to foreclosure.

Previous posts here discussed foreclosure and how it may happen. Previous posts have also touched on some of the ways that a person may stop the foreclosure process. Some of our readers may want to learn more about how to rid themselves of the homes that they can no longer afford before the foreclosure process starts: this process is known as a pre-foreclosure sale.

Can you discharge student loans in bankruptcy?

Certain debts are eligible for discharge in individual bankruptcy proceedings. Debts to mortgage lenders, credit card companies and others may be consolidated and repaid through various bankruptcy filings. However, some debts are not eligible for discharge or are very hard to discharge through traditional bankruptcy processes.

For example, student loan debts fall into the category of debts that are next to impossible to discharge through Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. In order for a student loan debtor in California to have their education debts discharged they must show that repayment of those loans would impose an undue hardship upon them.

Why might Chapter 13 bankruptcy be better for me than Chapter 7?

Both Chapter 13 bankruptcy and Chapter 7 bankruptcy afford debtors the opportunity to free themselves from the heavy burdens of unmanageable financial obligations. San Diego residents who are considering whether bankruptcy may serve their financial needs are encouraged to get more information about their own unique situations.

A debtor may wish to select Chapter 13 bankruptcy instead of Chapter 7 bankruptcy for a number of reasons. One major reason that Chapter 13 bankruptcy may be preferable is that it allows individuals to keep their property. Unlike Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which requires debtors to liquidate certain items of property that they own in order to pay off their creditors, Chapter 13 bankruptcy lets debtors create repayment plans that, over time, bring them into compliance with their outstanding loans.

Understanding the requirements of a valid will in California

A will is an important estate planning document. Through a properly executed will a person may leave items of property to their loved ones, establish guardians for their minor children and make bequests to the charities of their choice. A will outlines how a person would like their estate distributed upon their death, but unless it conforms to the laws of the state a person's will may be contested or even set aside.

In order to create a valid will in California, a person first must be at least 18 years of age. Minors are not permitted to create valid wills. Additionally, a will creator must be of sound mind at the time their will is signed. Being of sound mind generally means that the creator understands what they are signing and that they do not suffer from a mental disease or defect that could cause hallucinations or delusions that may cause them to dispose of their property in ways they may not have otherwise wanted to.

2 things to keep in mind about medical debt and bankruptcy

You, like many people in the El Cajon area, are struggling with rising medical debts. It may seem as if there is nothing you can do to avoid those medical bills, and it is not like you are racking them up unnecessarily. You may have health issues that require you to get medical care and take prescriptions your health insurance does not cover. 

It is important for you to not let this situation stress you out. Besides bankruptcy, there are options to help you overcome this financial challenge and get your medical bills under control. Here are some things you should keep in mind about medical debts. 

What is foreclosure?

In order to understand what options a San Diego resident may have to work through the foreclosure process, it is important that they first understand what a foreclosure actually is. This post will provide a very basic overview of what foreclosure means and the types of foreclosures Californians may face if their financial health threatens their ownership of their homes.

Although some people have enough money to buy their homes outright without having to secure financing, most people work hard to scrape together enough cash to make a down payment on a home and then finance the rest through a creditor. A home loan is called a mortgage and after a mortgage lender pays off the balance of the home for the home buyer it will generally hold a lien on the home buyer's property.

Don't wait for resolutions: Take control of your debts today

As the warm days of summer completely disappear into the long nights of fall, San Diego residents have begun preparing themselves for the onslaught of holidays that happen between Thanksgiving and next year's Valentine's Day. Often during the holidays individuals reflect on what they would like to change in the future and some record those aspirations as resolutions for the New Year. While New Year's resolutions can be a fun way to take stock of one's life and seek out means of improving it, there are certain actions that individuals should take to better their lives as soon as they can rather than waiting to write down their resolutions.

One of those actions relates to taking control of one's outstanding debts. Debts are a problem for many Californians and can come from many sources. Some individuals may have extensive debts owed to their credit card companies while others may have significant debts that have accrued from medical necessities. Others' debts may come from inadvisable investments, over-extension on home equity loans and a myriad of other sources.

Understanding mortgage forgiveness

Purchasing a home is a significant step for residents in the San Diego area; however, it is a major purchase, and most require financial assistance to complete the transaction. While obtaining a mortgage is a very common step to take, it is also expected that borrowers are able to make timely monthly payments. The failure to do so could land a homeowner is financial ruin, causing the foreclosure process to initiate. Losing a home because of missed mortgage payments is a reality that some homeowners face. However, homeowners facing foreclosure have options to delay or even stop the foreclosure process.

Mortgage forgiveness can be a reality. This occurs when a homeowner is involved in an active foreclosure case and he or she seeks to restructure the loan. While a lender could foreclose and sell the borrowers property, many homeowners seek to maintain their home, attempting any alternative to losing their family home.

Retirement accounts that are safe during bankruptcy

Debt is sometimes difficult to avoid. In most cases, it comes into our lives in small quantities. We make larger purchases on a credit card with the intent of paying it off either right away or in a few months. In other cases, people take on larger debts, such as when they purchase a home or a vehicle. And in some unfortunate matters, debt begins to pile up when medical bills accumulate. When debt becomes uncontrollable, consumers are put in a challenging predicament. However, filing for bankruptcy can be a real option and a solution in these circumstances.

Although we are aware that filing for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a way to eliminate debt, it might be confusing when it comes to how debt will be treated and how this could impact current and future assets. Because of this, older adults filing for bankruptcy might have concerns regarding what could happen to their retirement accounts if they decide to file for bankruptcy.

What is a spendthrift trust?

Trusts are important estate planning tools that can allow individuals to place their assets in trust and for the benefit of others. The creator of a trust may place terms and conditions on how the trust beneficiaries may collect their trust income and different types of trusts may achieve different estate planning goals. This post will discuss one specific type of trust - spendthrift trusts - and will describe how some San Diego residents may use them to provide for individuals after the trust creators' deaths.

A spendthrift trust is a trust that prevents what a beneficiary may do with their trust interests. In other types of trusts a beneficiary may be able to sell or pledge their trust interests to others; spendthrift trusts prevent this from occurring and make invalid any attempts of beneficiaries to divest themselves of their trust interests before the time that they take possession of their trust assets.

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Thomas F. Miles, Attorney and Counselor at Law
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