Filing Fee Increase On June 1st

Bankruptcy case filing fees are increasing on June 1, 2014.  The Chapter 7 filing fee will rise from $306 to $335 and the Chapter 13 filing fee will kick up from $281 to $310.  Although there are many other important considerations in timing the filing of your case, saving $29 is a good reason to hurry up and contact your bankruptcy attorney to see if you can file your case before the end of May!

New Regulations Require Mortgage Statements Continue in Bankruptcy and More

Mortgage lenders can no longer refuse to provide monthly statements to individuals in bankruptcy.  Typically mortgage lenders stopped providing monthly statements when a borrower filed bankruptcy, which is the time when, more than ever, borrowers need to know what is going on with their mortgage.  Without statements, borrowers in bankruptcy were not alerted to changes in their monthly payment amount due to rate adjustments or changes in escrow or the assessment of fees and costs or even if they have missed payments.

New rules effective January 10, 2014 require that if mortgage lenders provided monthly statements before a case, they must continue providing statements during the bankruptcy case.  These rules were promulgated by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) pursuant to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.  There are some exceptions to this rule such as for reverse mortgages or home equity lines of credit (HELOCs).  In addition to monthly mortgage statements, lenders must also provide at least two months advance notice of changes in the monthly payment amount due to a rate adjustment.

The CFPB regulations also address the use of “force placed” insurance by mortgage lenders.  Typically, if a borrower’s home insurance lapses, lenders are allowed to obtain their own “force placed” insurance which only covers the lender up to the balance of the mortgage if something happens to the property.  The lender then assesses the costs for this “force placed” coverage, often several times higher than the borrower’s private home insurance, to the borrower’s account.  “Force placed” coverage was sometimes even put in place when a borrower paid their home insurance premiums as part of their mortgage payment, so-called “escrow,” if the borrower fell behind on their mortgage payments.  Assessing borrowers the more expensive premiums for the force placed coverage would compound the amount of the mortgage arrears catapulting borrowers into foreclosure.

The new regulations require that if a borrower escrowed their home insurance premiums as part of their mortgage payment, lenders now have to continue paying these premiums, even when the borrower falls behind on their mortgage payments.  Mortgage lenders will no longer be able to swap in the more expensive “force placed” coverage.

For more detailed information on the new CFPB regulations, see the very informative article by Attorney John Rao of the National Consumer Law Center titled “New Servicing Regulations Adopt Sensible Approach” published in the May 2013 ABI Journal at page 16 and available at this link: http://journal.abi.org/content/new-servicing-regulations-adopt-sensible-approach

Top Notch Boston Bankruptcy Attorney

“I chose Susan’s office based on positive reviews on the internet as well as her time in business. I’m very glad I did. She was professional yet personable, prompt to answer my questions, and very good about explaining how the process works. I would highly recommend her services.”

Jeff, a Chapter 7

Voluntary Survey On Why Individuals File Bankruptcy

Law Professor Daniel Austin at Northeastern University School of Law is conducting a survey regarding the conditions and forces that cause individuals to file for bankruptcy protection. Professor Austin has been a strong advocate for bankruptcy debtors. His most recent article analyzed bankruptcy law regarding non-dischargeability of student loans and its dramatic, hard-hitting effect on individuals and society at large.

The survey is very short and should only take a couple minutes to complete. If you have filed bankruptcy, please consider clicking on the link below to complete this voluntary survey.  Thank you.

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1KL4nJyo0d9DnQY7os324gepVApr_EgMH_0FOeXhERvQ/edit

Attorney Susan Grossberg Recognized In Pro Bono Honor Rolls

This October, Attorney Susan Grossberg was recognized for her pro bono publico representation of the indigent by both the Supreme Judicial Court Pro Bono Recognition Program Honor Roll and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts.

Attorney Susan Grossberg celebrated as 2103 Top Women of Law Honoree

Attorney Susan Grossberg is being celebrated as a 2103 Top Women of Law Honoree on October 31st at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel.  Each year the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly honors women who have made great professional strides and demonstrated outstanding accomplishments in private practice, the corporate arena and social advocacy. For more information about the legal educators, trailblazers and role models who have demonstrated outstanding accomplishments in social justice, advocacy and business and who are being recognized as the Top Women of Law, click here.

Finally – Pay Your Plan Payments Online!

Finally, the Chapter 13 Trustee in Boston has adopted an online method to pay plan payments. You no longer have to go out and buy a money order or bank check, fill it out, address an envelope, buy a stamp for it, and get it to a mailbox to make your plan payment.  Instead, all you have to do is go online to TFSBillPay.com.

Once you have registered with TFSBillPay.com, you can safely make plan payments from your bank account directly to the Chapter 13 Trustee.  No more worrying if your payment was lost in the mail or credited to the wrong case because you can track your payments at the TFSBillPay.com site.  You can also schedule future payments.  All for the same cost (or less) than a money order or bank check.

Yes, I am very excited because I believe this will help my clients stay current on their plan payments and avoid the hassle and expense of Trustee Motions to Dismiss for failure to pay plan payments.  I would so much rather spend my time helping clients put their lives back together, than to nag about why plan payments weren’t made.  So, to all of my Chapter 13 clients, if you haven’t signed up for TFSBillPay.com yet, please do it today.  Thank you!

Volunteer Lawyer Bankruptcy Training Slated for October 7

On Monday, October 7, 2013, the BBA Bankruptcy Law Section Public Service Committee and the Volunteer Lawyers Project of the BBA will sponsor a training on representing a pro bono debtor in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.  The faculty for the annual program will include Susan Grossberg of Grossberg Law Offices, a consumer bankruptcy practitioner with extensive experience representing Chapter 7 debtors; Warren Agin of Swiggart & Agin, LLC, who frequently serves as a Chapter 7 trustee; and Emily Jarrell, an attorney from the Volunteer Lawyers Project.

The training will cover the basics of representing a Chapter 7 debtor on a pro bono basis, including pre-filing considerations and counseling, preparation of the petition, maximizing exemptions, the role of the Chapter 7 trustee, and the 341 meeting of creditors.  The training will be held at the BBA at 16 Beacon Street in Boston from 3:30PM to 6:00PM, and will be followed by a reception from 6:00PM to 7:00PM.

Lawyers of all experience levels are encouraged to attend the training and reception to facilitate networking with newer members of the bankruptcy bar.  There is no fee for the training, but attendees are strongly encouraged to put their learning to use by taking on a pro bono case through the Volunteer Lawyers Project.

Very pleasant experience

“I had herd that Bankruptcy’s can be awful. I had no issues what so ever and I credit this towards my attorney . Susan Grossberg took care of everything and was extremely pleasent in doing so. I never felt like she was judging me and she was on top of things from the start.”

Joshua, a Chapter 7

What will happen if I file bankruptcy?

Most people have at least some incorrect perceptions and unfounded fears about bankruptcy.  Below I discuss a few I have come across over the years.  I hope that by dispelling some of these widely held myths, I can help you to determine whether bankruptcy is the right course for you. My initial phone consultation is free. You owe it to yourself to call.