Articles Posted in Economic News

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house.JPGThe Affordable Care Act has caused millions of people to sign up for Medicaid for the first time. Medicaid is a program of free health insurance provided to low to no income individuals. Although the care itself is free, there is a lien against estate assets for any Medicaid payments made for any individual who received benefits after he or she reaches 55 years of age. This includes a lien against their home.

In some states, a Medicaid lien will result in the loss of a homestead to the government. This is one of those unintended consequences we hear about. However, in Florida, we do not have to worry about a Medicaid recipient’s house being taken. This is because of the Florida homestead laws.

For additional questions and consultation on debt related issues, please consider contacting Christie D. Arkovich, P.A.

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short sale tax.jpgThe late night fiscal cliff tenative workout included a proposed extension of the Mortgage Debt Relief Forgiveness Act for one more year to include 2013! Floridians seeking to short sale their home but weren’t able to get it done prior to the end of 2012 can breathe a sigh of relief. It’ll take a few days, but provided the House approves the Senate’s Bill, it will be full speed ahead for short sales for another year.

Popular blogger Calculated Risk posted the Senate version of the bill (H.R. 8) today.

Expiration of the favorable tax treatment of cancelled debt would create a major headache for homeowners who sell their home short (for less than what is owed). It would also apply to foreclosures and a deed in lieu of foreclosure.

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underwater house.jpgThe recent AG settlement among the states’ Attorneys General and the five largest mortgage servicers is expected to be filed any day now. Hopefully then more light will be shed on what exactly the terms are and how they will help Florida homeowners.

The Wall Street Journal reported today that Bank of America also made a side deal to avoid penalties and will be doing more principal reductions. Under the terms of the settlement, the five servicers are required to make more than $10 billion in principal reductions. There is a lot more info in the article at the link above.

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If you are like most Florida consumers overloaded with debt, by not considering bankruptcy, you are continuing to just throw money away on debt servicing. Once you get behind, it can be nearly impossible to catch up especially now with the costs of living rising higher than wage increases. You have options rather than see your money continue to go down the drain: speak with a bankruptcy attorney. Quit delaying. Make a decision now. Bankruptcy may or may not be the answer. But you owe it to your family and yourself to find out if it is.

debt whirlpool.jpgNationwide bankruptcies by consumers declined approximately 10% last year. Is this a sign the economy is improving? In part perhaps. But mostly, it may be from indecision, and the inability to pay up to $2,000 to file bankruptcy. The debt is still there and getting bigger in most cases.

The general need for bankruptcy is still present, but the financial ability of clients to pay the fees has decreased. The availability for credit is diminished. In the past, as long as you were breathing, you were able to secure a car loan and probably even a home loan. Not anymore. Costs of food and other essentials have skyrocketed leaving less disposable income. The availability of funds to pay one-time fees for a bankruptcy attorney or other unexpected expenses is non-existent for some clients.

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student loan debt hat.jpgTonight at 10:00 p.m. the lead story on Channel 13 inTampa is about the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys’ survey that came out today warning of an emerging student loan debt bomb. News Reporter Jeremy Campbell interviewed me about this study and the future impact of student loan debt.

It is very difficult to discharge a student loan in bankruptcy. A debtor has to show an undue hardship that will likely persist for the majority of the repayment period (which runs from 10 to 25 years). They have to show they have minimized their expenses and maximized their income. They also have to prove they have made a good faith effort to repay. Partial discharges of debt are possible and often a favored result for both parties.

The NACBA study shows that four out of five bankruptcy attorneys say that potential clients with student loan debt have increased significantly or somewhat over the last three-four years. Approximately 95 percent determine that few student loan debtors have any chance of obtaining a discharge as a result of an undue hardship.

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mortgage-crisis.jpgThe ordinary household is drowning in mortgage debt. Sure, some homeowners were reckless, but most were not. Regardless of fault however until the mortgage crisis is fixed and our unemployment is cut in half, our country’s households will continue their downfall. This Thursday, President Obama is to announce some sort of plan to reduce unemployment and provide solutions to our mortgage crisis.

The New York Times editorial recently addressed NACBA’s Principal Paydown Plan. I urge everyone to read this editiorial and contact your representatives or the Whitehouse to support this plan which would amend the bankruptcy code to allow mortgage payments in a Chapter 13 Plan to go directly to principal thereby reducing or eliminating the underwater portion.

New approaches are necessary. HAMP has probably caused more foreclosures than it helped because of the poor implementation by the banks and mortgage servicers. For instance, I can’t count the number of homeowners who have said that their mortgage company told them they had to be three months behind before a modification could be discussed, only to call three months later and hear that modifications are only available for borrowers who are current. This doesn’t even count the homeowners who have given up after submitting their paperwork umpteen times. Or those on endless trials only to be told they don’t qualify and now owe $30,000 back payments by Friday. Oh and they can’t get a loan to catch up the arrears because their credit has been dinged by the servicer who failed to explain that a mortgage modification would destroy their credit.
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debt downgrade.jpgLet’s put into perspective the recent S&P debt downgrade of the United States.

U.S. Tax Revenue: $2,170,000,000,000 Fed. Budget: $3,820,000,000,000 New Debt: $1,650,000,000,000 National Debt: $14,271,000,000,000 Recent Budget Cut: $38,500,000,000

Now let’s remove 8 zeros and compare this to an ordinary household:

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nacba.jpgNACBA (National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys) responded this weekend to the government’s latest approach to the foreclosure crisis with what I call the Principal Paydown Plan.

Rather than turn us into a nation of renters under the recent suggestion that Freddie and Fannie rent their foreclosed properties or sell them as rentals, NACBA suggests again that a Chapter 13 bankruptcy can be modified to help families avoid foreclosure on massively underwater property. Without more focus on prevention, our housing market is certainly facing additional downturns.

The Principal Paydown Plan would require the reduction of interest on a primary mortgage to 0% during a Chapter 13 Plan thereby relegating the entire payment to principal (plus escrow). At the end of the bankruptcy, the debtor would have paid down their mortgage in many cases to the approximate fair market value of the property helping to slow the foreclosure numbers for those homeowners who would otherwise strategically default believing that their home value will take 10 or more years to recover.

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