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What To Do If A Foreclosure Action Is Started Against You

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Do not ignore any legal documents you receive. 

  • Take any legal documents to a lawyer to review immediately on receipt. There are deadlines that can affect your case if they are missed. If you cannot afford a lawyer, call your local Legal Services office and ask if they have attorneys who can help you or call your local Bar Association and ask if they have any lawyers who will give you free advice. 
  • If you cannot get any legal advice, at the very least, write a letter to the lawyer who sent you the legal documents. The name of the firm should be on the legal documents you received. Tell the lawyer about your health problem and your ability to work out a financial solution. If you do not agree with something in the legal documents or with something that the bank has done, put that in the letter as well. Consider filing this letter with the County Clerk's office where the foreclosure action is filed or sending a copy to the judge assigned to the action so they will be aware of your position.

Contact the bank immediately to try to work out a solution.

  • If you do not have a lawyer representing you, do not delay in contacting the bank to work out a solution. The longer you wait, the less incentive the bank will have to work with you. The closer to the foreclosure sale that the bank gets, the more attorneys' fees they will have paid and the more difficult it will be to work out a solution.
  • In some states, the bank may be required by the Court to give you an opportunity to work out a payment plan if the mortgage on your home has: 
    • A high interest rate OR
    • You had high closing costs at the closing of the mortgage OR  
    • The mortgage requires interest only payments.
  • If the bank is unreasonable and will not work with you, contact a lawyer or call the court clerk for advice.
  • When you talk to the bank, keep a written log of whom you speak to, when and what you discuss. Follow up regularly with the people you speak to if they do not send you information or forms that you need. Some banks are very large and you are only one person of many accounts that they handle. If you are persistent, honest, courteous and professional, you have a better chance of reaching a solution. Some banks will tell you to talk only to their lawyers.

If you promise to provide the bank with financial information or a payment, do not break this promise. If you cannot meet this promise, call the bank and explain why. If the bank does not hear from you, they will assume you are avoiding the problem and they will proceed with the foreclosure.

Consider some of the solutions in the article, Getting Rid Of The Debt Other Than Through Foreclosure

Find out how much time you have to stay in the property

  • Ask any lawyer you call for advice about the foreclosure action how long you can expect to be able to remain in your property if you cannot solve the problem. The amount of time varies from about 2 months to a year depending on the state. This information will tell you how much time you have to solve the problem or make alternate plans.
  • Call the bank's lawyers from time to time to find out where the foreclosure stands so you can plan how much time you have. Some law offices handle many cases and you may have trouble reaching someone. Continue to be persistent and courteous and you will get the information you need.

Make alternate plans to leave the property, if necessary. 

  • If you cannot settle the matter with the bank, make other plans for someplace to live so that you are prepared when you are required to leave. No matter how important your residence is to you, ultimately, it is only walls and ceilings. Your health and well-being should be your first concern.
  • Having an alternate plan in place early will help reduce the stress you feel in a difficult situation.
  • If you wait till the last minute, you may be forced into a difficult and undesirable living situation. 

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