So, you've experienced a hardship that caused you to fall behind on your mortgage payments, but you're committed to doing whatever it takes to keep your home. You know that you'll need the help of a lawyer to have the best chance at success. But, once you've hired a qualified attorney, what do you need to do to help them fight to keep your home?
The homeowner and their attorney each have responsibilities when it comes to fighting to keep a home that is threatened with foreclosure. If either party does not do their part, chances for success go down. If a homeowner isn't honest and forthcoming with their lawyer, they will not be able to do their job effectively. And, if an inexperienced law firm (or worse, one that breaks the law) is retained, all the effort on the part of the homeowner will not make a difference. How do you avoid a situation like that?
First Things First: Avoid Scams and Choose A Good Attorney
Do a little research on the common scams to avoid. Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous people out there who have no reservations about lying to you so they can take your money. Just a few minutes of reading online can help you avoid the scammers. It's well worth the time.
To choose a good attorney, it's recommended that you pick someone that focuses their practice on the area of the law that you need help with. There are lawyers that have a multidisciplinary practice that can include foreclosure defense and loan modification assistance, but they may not have the resources and experience to best serve you. The law firm you choose should have a proven record of helping people in your situation. Ask for case results that demonstrate their proficiency, and run from anyone that guarantees a successful loan modification.
Listen to Your (Prospective) Lawyer
When you are considering working with a reputable law firm, you should take their advice very seriously. A good law firm will have your best interests in mind, and will give you the straight truth even when it's bad news. Don't ignore sound legal advice just because it's not what you want to hear.
At Amerihope Alliance Legal Services, we evaluate homeowners' cases to see if we can help them. If we don't believe we can help, we do not accept a client. In a number of instances, we have accepted a client, told them that their case looks good and their situation appears to make them eligible for loan modification and keeping their home, and they need to act soon. But the homeowner does nothing. Then a few months later, we are again contacted by the homeowner, now ready to hire us, and it's often too late because their situation has changed for the worse, sometimes there are just days before their house is auctioned. At that point, there is not usually time to build a defense and expect to keep the home. There are often tears shed at this point, and for good reason. It's tough to accept that you will be losing your home and that it didn't have to be that way. Remember: every case is different and you should consult an attorney immediately if you are facing the foreclosure process.
You have fewer and less favorable options when you procrastinate. It's important to hire a good attorney when there's still enough time to do something to save your home.
Help Your Attorney Help You
It's not quite as simple as hiring a good attorney at the right time, then waiting until they've worked their magic. You have to help your attorney help you by doing the following:
Give them the documents needed for your case. For instance, if applying for a loan modification, you'll need to provide your W-2s, tax returns, bank statements, pay stubs, a mortgage statement, and more. Unless you hire an attorney/burglar/hacker, they will not be able to obtain those documents on their own. Provide your lawyer with everything they need for your case, and do it promptly to avoid unnecessary delays. The clock is ticking.
Show up when and where you're needed. Your attorney will likely file a notice of appearance that allows them to represent you and appear in court on your behalf without your presence. However, there may be times when you are required to physically show up for something, like a status hearing or settlement conference, that's very important to your case. If you fail to appear, it could cost you even more money and delay, or even prevent you from getting the results you're seeking. You're in a difficult enough situation with the threat of foreclosure looming. Don't make it worse by not showing up for something that you're supposed to show up for.
Communicate with your attorney. A good law firm will do their part to communicate by making every action they take on your case available for you to see, and by being available to answer your questions. It's very important to return calls from your attorney, which is common sense, but there are instances where clients ignore their law firm like they were the enemy. Sometimes the lender or their attorneys will send notices and information to the homeowner, and the homeowner does not pass them on to the law firm. For shame! Your lawyer can't act on information they don't have, and you have to keep your lawyer up to date on all developments, including any information your bank sends you. It's never a good idea to assume your attorney received something just because you did. Your law firm is there to help, so maintain open communication with them.
Even when you've avoided a bad foreclosure defense attorney and selected a reputable firm, there are some things they can't do without your help. A successful outcome is the result of a collaboration between multiple parties, like a puzzle with different pieces that fit together to form one picture. Your law firm and you each hold a piece of that puzzle. If you don't contribute your piece, you won't get the result you're looking for. If you're going to invest in the services of an attorney to help you save your home, do your part by working with them to achieve the best result.
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